Given the increasing prevalence of mental health disorders and the fact that poor mental health costs our economy some £26bn per year, it’s becoming more important than ever for employers to take the mental health of their employees seriously. Which is why it’s gratifying that research conducted by Group Risk Development (GRiD), the trade body for the group risk industry, has revealed that dealing with stress and other mental health problems has become employers’ highest priority for 2013.
Of the 500 employers interviewed for the annual survey, 21% regarded mental health issues and stress as being the prime health-related risk to their business. Coming a close second family health concerns were rated as being significant by a fifth of employers and 19% were concerned about employees maintaining a sustainable work / life balance. Taking all of this data into account, it is becoming clear just how vital employee wellbeing is to the success of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
So how are employers tackling these problems? Out of the enterprises spoken to, 31% felt that managing stress and mental ill health was their highest priority – a significant rise of 5% on the previous year. Over a third felt an essential part of guaranteeing the good health of their employees was dependent on a practical work / life balance, with 34% implementing flexible working initiatives to ensure employees were able to more easily manage their stress levels.
It’s heartening to see employers taking the mental health and wellbeing so seriously and recognising that mental health problems have as much a financial cost as a personal one. Given that this Wednesday was Stress Awareness Day, these findings are particularly timely and show that both employees and employers are taking their responsibilities to promote good mental health more seriously than ever.