Seminar Summary – Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental Health in the Workplace Seminar – A Reflection.

Gravitate HR recently hosted a lunch time seminar on tackling mental health in the workplace, in conjunction with Sara Maude of The Mind Solution and I thought it might be useful to blog the key discussion points from the session.

Attendees of the seminar ranged from Directors and Managers within SME organisations in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Fife to Sole Traders and Consultants within the healthcare industry. All guests had a keen interest in learning more about this topic which is an important one for employers and employees alike.

Understanding the Term

Initially, Sara engaged the audience by asking for their interpretation of what mental health meant. A discussion around common terms given to mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the stigmatisms and associations which still surround mental health issues then followed.

The general consensus was that the effects of these conditions general led individuals to suffer, often in silence, until they reached breaking point.

Understanding the Impact

Sara provided some statistics and numbers which helped to contextualise how common mental health issues were and the impact of absence as a result of mental health issues has on a business. Using a company of 25 employees and some average statistics on mental health conditions, Sara was able to demonstrate the financial impact that absence related to mental health can have.

Company of 25 employees

1 in 4 has a mental health condition = 6 people

Average salary = £26,500

£100 per day (including on costs)

Average number of days absence = 9

Cost of absence = £5,400 (based on 6 people)

Similarly, Sara demonstrated the cost that presentism can have, i.e. where an employee is not absent from work due to a condition but is not operating at anywhere near their 100% productivity potential:

6 employees operating at 50% for 20 days = 120 days

50% of daily rate = £50 cost

X 120 days = £6,000

Total cost = £11, 400

As well as cost to the business, other impacts identified included the wider impact which mental health conditions can have on the individual who is affected and the knock-on effect this can have within the wider team. All in all, it was seen as prudent to have a mentally healthy workplace.

Creating a Mentally Healthy Workplace

The final section of the seminar provided some practical steps and considerations for businesses to make when seeking to create a working environment that promotes positive mental health. Some of these steps included:

• Ensuring commitment to any initiatives from the top levels of the organisation is achieved to ensure staff are aware that it is being taken seriously;

• Having clear objectives and knowing what you are trying to achieve by implementing any initiatives;

• Linking your wellbeing initiatives and approaches to your overall business strategy – not “throwing jelly against the wall and hoping it sticks”; and

• Creating a sustainable approach – being aware that one-off events will not elicit the positive results that regular and relevant initiatives will.

The seminar proved to be a thought-provoking one with delegates leaving reflecting on how they might implement some of the learnings within their own organisation. We thank Sara for speaking at our seminar. We look forward to our next lunchtime seminar – details to follow.