Profits rack up for FTSE 100 firms with eye on mental health

FTSE100 mental health

FTSE 100 businesses that used the words ‘mental health’ or ‘wellbeing’ more than twice in their annual reports last year raked in up to three times more profit than those that didn’t, researchers have found.

Firms that used the phrases two times or less clocked up a mean profit of £563bn for the year, London startup Soma Analytics said on Tuesday, compared to £1.4tn from those that mentioned the words more than twice, the Telegraph reports.

“One might argue that the more a company holds itself publicly accountable for the wellbeing of its employees, the more they invest in it,” the report said. “This could lead to more productive employees with fewer days off work and more engagement with their company, ultimately leading to better financial returns.”

By company, Lloyds Banking Group mentioned mental health 13 times in its annual report, followed by Royal Mail which used it ten times, while British Airways’ owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) was among the firms that didn’t mention either word.

However Johann Huber, the co-founder and chief executive of Soma Analytics, said the findings were also “alarming” because three quarters of FTSE 100 companies did not mention mental health at all.

“We want to turn management’s attention to this blind spot,” he said, adding there is more stigma attached to the words mental health than there is wellbeing. “Ten years from now, we would like every company to report on the overall health and wellbeing of their employees, as they now report on EBITDA or depreciation.”

Publishing its inaugural survey on World Mental Health Day (10 October), the study pushes forward the argument that focusing on the wellbeing of staff is in investors’ interests, with sick days and lost productivity costing billions of pounds each year.

“The importance of raising awareness and encouraging open, honest conversations about mental health in the workplace cannot be understated,” said Legal & General chief executive Nigel Wilson, who is holding a mental health forum next week. “Absence due to mental health continues to be a problem for employers, with more and more people taking time off work as a result.”

There has been a rising focus on mental health in the UK this year, with Prince Harry’s interview about his own mental health encouraging men in particular to speak up. However according to a 2017 Office Genie survey of 2,000 British workers, half of those with a mental health problem felt that there was not enough support at work.