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Why Businesses are Failing to Support Employee Mental Health

21 May 2020 5 min read

Employee suffering from mental health issues at home

Coronavirus is having and will continue to have a major impact on businesses across the UK. The virus has brought uncertainty and new challenges, with many being forced to shut shop and furlough their staff. However, this is not the only problem facing businesses, another hidden casualty of lockdown has been employee mental health. As it was International HR day on the 20th May, we wanted to know if HR professionals were aware of how Covid-19 was affecting the workforce.

During our recent employee mental health webinar, we surveyed over 100 HR leaders and asked them about mental health in their business. The results of the survey showed that many had seen a significant increase in mental health issues yet did not have the tools to support individuals in the workforce. There were also some who were unaware of an increase, which they concede was due to a lack of visibility.

We have explored the results of our survey and have seen 3 major areas that if businesses don’t fix now, could cause them problems later down the line.

Businesses lack the tools to help their employees

We were astonished to find that 53% of businesses do not have adequate resources to support mental health issues. A further 51% also said that they do not have the capability to see who has suffered from sickness or mental health issues as a result of Covid-19.

It’s hugely worrying to see that most of these companies have no means to support their employee’s mental health or any visibility on those affected by Covid-19. Businesses not only need the right tools to see when people need extra support, but they then need to be able to signpost them to resources that can help them.

Logging all forms of sickness due to Covid-19 whether it is physical or mental, will enable you to identify the specific problem and offer a solution that fits best. Without these tools, unchecked mental health issues can cause large problems for your organization such as increased absenteeism and decreased productivity.

The rise in mental health problems during Covid-19

With large-scale health scares such as SARS leading to an increase in mental distress, the current lockdown will see an increase in mental health-related causes. Businesses are already seeing the impact lockdown is having with 45% of those surveyed saying they have seen a rise in mental health-related issues during Covid-19.

What is potentially more troubling is that 39% of those surveyed said they were unaware of any employees suffering from mental health troubles during Covid-19. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure they understand the health of their staff, be it mental or physical. Not fully understanding an individual’s situation is detrimental in many ways, not least to the productivity of their role. Having the right tools in place will help you to track sickness trends, pinpoint where the problem is, and help those who are suffering.

By tracking Covid-19 related illness now and offering your staff a helping hand, they will feel more comfortable and happier about returning to work when the lockdown is over. For businesses who are not already tracking or have no plans to track Covid-19 related illnesses, many will find their employees are unable to return due to the increased stress that Covid-19 has put them under and will need time off to recover.

Businesses are unaware of issues until it’s too late

The dangers of untreated mental illness can be detrimental to employee health, therefore it is vital to treat anyone suffering immediately. 69% of HR leaders are alerted to mental health issues 7 days after they occur or not at all, meaning even those with the capability to do this are leaving it too late to act.

Early intervention is key and can make all the difference says Dr. Lia Ali, Head of Mental Health Strategy at Doctor Care Anywhere: “Early intervention can make all the difference and as we adjust to life after lockdown, we can do this by looking at patterns in data, and understanding our employees. When we know our employees well, then we can spot warning signs sooner.”

When companies can spot warning signs and are alerted to them immediately, minor problems can be fixed quickly before they snowball into something much worse. If businesses don’t act quickly employees who are suffering will continue to suffer, which may ultimately result in them leaving the business.

With businesses around the UK preparing for a return to business as usual, it is clear to see that many just don’t have the tools to help their staff with mental health problems. The importance of tracking who might be suffering from poor mental health and using intelligent signposting to provide early interventions can really help your employees.

Our intelligent absence management platform will help you track and monitor mental health issues across your business. If you would like to talk to us about how we can help, you can call one of our absence experts on 0333 300 3403 or email us on enquiries@e-days.com and we can help you, help your employees today.

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Katrina Bennett People Director at edays
May 21, 2020

Katrina is edays' own People Director with significant UK and international experience in delivering people strategy and value-adding HR solutions across a range of organisations and sectors (including Arriva, Boots, Rolls Royce, the utility and charity sectors). Katrina has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources and is CIPD qualified.