“Employee wellbeing should form part of a company’s holistic risk assessment with processes in place to manage the associated risks.”
These were the words of Grant Clemence, director of underwriting and mental health champion at QBE Business Insurance, when findings of the UK-wide research commissioned by the insurer were released as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. Conducted by Opinium among 502 senior decision-makers, the study found that taboos are hindering businesses from addressing mental health issues in the workplace.
Here are some of the numbers from the online survey carried out last month:
- 29% believe employees should not discuss mental health issues at work, with the percentage higher (36%) among younger managers.
- 19% would not want to hire someone with a declared mental illness, more so in bigger firms.
- 28% admit not knowing how to deal with employees’ mental health issues, with 71% interested in more training.
- 23% (39% in large companies) think their business is open about mental health issues.
- 38% believe workplace stress is inevitable and out of employers’ control, but 77% concur that employers have a responsibility to tackle it.
“Our research highlights the stigma that prevails around mental health in the workplace,” noted Clemence. “The majority of senior managers want the tools and training to support themselves and their teams and yet at the same time a large number don’t believe it’s an issue that should be discussed in the workplace.
“That absolutely needs to change, and a key way to do that is to create a work environment where it is OK to talk about mental health.”
QBE added that three out of four managers acknowledge that workplace stress has the potential to lead to mental illness if left unmanaged.
“Our ‘always on’ culture can put immense pressure on individuals, which, compounded with demands in their personal lives, can really take a toll on their mental health and result in a person who is not functioning at their best,” explained Clemence.
A guide to best practice for dealing with mental ill health in the workplace is available on the QBE Europe website.