I am a Deloitte Tax Partner and also a Mental Health Champion. The champion role is one of the most rewarding I have within Deloitte and has two main components. Firstly, my fellow champions across all our UK offices and I are responsible for raising awareness, speaking to teams and communicating the various support networks that are in place, and, secondly, we are an independent sympathetic ear for people with concerns about themselves or a colleague and we aid them in accessing the appropriate confidential and professional help they require.
When I was a director, I was a high performer who felt constantly challenged in terms of the balance between work and home life. I tried to cope quietly, and not always successfully, and it took me a while until I felt able to take the step in order to seek the necessary help. I was able, through that support, to properly order my competing priorities and make certain conscious changes which have restored a happy balance for me. It inspired me to speak out and help others and become a Mental Health Champion. In this blog, I highlight some of the key findings in Deloitte’s recently published report on mental health in the workplace, and the case for increasing investment in this area.
The report finds that poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion each year. This is a rise of 16% since 2016 - an extra £6 billion a year.
What can businesses do in response?
The research looks at how employers can tackle this problem, finding that it pays to support employees’ mental health. On average, for every £1 spent on supporting their people’s mental health, employers get £5 back on their investment in reduced presenteeism, absenteeism and staff turnover.
It shows that a higher return on investment can be achieved by early interventions, such as organisation-wide culture change and education, than more in-depth support that may be needed at a later stage when a person is struggling.
An ‘always-on’ culture impacts mental health
The analysis describes a complex picture with more people suffering from poor mental health yet continuing to work when they are not at their most productive, rather than take time off, highlighting leaveism and presenteeism as characteristics of an ‘always-on’ culture, enabled by technology.
While increased use of technology can enhance working practices, having the ability to work outside of normal working hours can add to the challenge of maintaining good mental health – it can make it hard to disconnect from an ‘always-on’ culture.
The report highlights that recent studies show younger workers are twice as likely to suffer from depression as the average worker. Young professionals emerge as the most vulnerable demographic in the workplace as the report finds they are far less likely to take time off when struggling with their mental health.
- Finding it difficult to switch off from work
- Using holidays to complete work
- Continuing to work outside of normal working hours
The report points to a rise in 'leaveism', where employees are unable to disconnect from work. It's becoming increasingly common as working remotely and flexible working have become easier thanks to technology, but they can also lead to overworking, a reduction in workforce morale, and burnout.
Essentially, the analysis highlights that it pays for employers to provide mental health support at work and that cultural change and early intervention is vital.
I really hope this report can be the catalyst in bringing different stakeholders together to have honest conversations about employers' attitudes to poor mental health, the help that is available, and how best practice can be embedded in organisations of all sizes across the UK.
Read the report here.