UK SMEs must look to better manage mental illness for staff to cut absentee rates

workplace stress

In the UK around 15 million working days are lost to mental illness at a cost to UK employers of an estimated £226 billion in the last 12 months.

Underlying these figures is the issue of mental health in the workplace, which is increasingly affecting businesses, whether they are an SME or a global corporation.

The issues surrounding mental health can have a detrimental impact on a person’s ability to perform at work; for example, by altering their ability to make decisions, their capacity to work alongside others and obstructing their focus, thus increasing the likelihood of errors and inaccuracies occurring, and overall productivity being hindered.

Difficulties such as these can also prove detrimental to an organisation’s engagement levels, in that they can prevent an employee from feeling genuinely connected with their company’s values and objectives.

With that in mind, over the last few years, mental health has slowly been rising on the list of priorities for businesses, but it is still not at the top of the agenda for many due to the stigma attached to it, which in 2019 needs to be thrown to one side.

To achieve this, savvy managers AND leadership groups should regularly look to discuss this issue and ask their teams questions including “how are you doing” and “how’s the family” to find out how they are feeling and to get them to open up and let people know if there is something wrong.

However, for this to work there needs to be a collaborative effort between employer and employee on a regular basis instead of at one-off intervals during awareness weeks, for example, so as a team they can effectively identify and tackle areas that need to be strengthened in order for the employee to be a productive member of the team in a happy and healthy work environment.

In addition, many businesses see their employees as part of their family, so an open-door policy should be encouraged when discussing mental health issues because they can sneak up on anyone.

This policy means that there must be the relevant procedures and processes in place to talk about issues and assist employees when it comes to pointing them in the right direction to get a diagnosis and treatment, and when they come back they have access to the relevant support systems to ensure they continue to operate in a safe and secure environment.

The aim of such policies is to ensure that employees feel that they are valued and supported so that wellbeing levels are high and they feel more committed to the brand’s aims and goals, importantly, helping them perform better, which will help the business in the short, medium and long term.

Having all these ‘face-to-face’ processes in place is all well and good but often people don’t feel inclined to engage with them. This leads to businesses not being able to join all the dots together to understand what is needed and required to implement or maintain an environment throughout the business that is conducive to fostering the psychological wellness of their employees, whether they are senior managers or employees on the ground.

This is where E-Cubed®, powered by Truthsayers®, an innovative survey tool which combines neuroscience with technology, comes in. It guarantees to get to the bottom of how your employees truly feel, enabling businesses to adjust the workplace accordingly and nurture a more positive environment for mental wellbeing.

By using Implicit Reaction Time (IRT) testing, E-Cubed® bypasses conscious bias and thought processes, which take precedence in traditional employee engagement surveys, to capture employees’ gut responses anonymously.

There is no box-ticking involved and the individual isn’t required to think about their responses; instead, the employee simply reacts to statements, which appear on the screen when prompted to do so and allows the IRT to do the rest. With the results being instantaneous, it enables businesses to view them during and immediately after the survey ends, ensuring that employee requirements are addressed promptly by enabling businesses to make necessary adjustments to the working environment as soon as possible.

The survey also enables results to be compared across different aspects of the business, irrespective of location and language.