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Mental health costs UK workplaces £43 billion

08 July 2020

IN THE latest instalment of Covid-19 webinars IOSH welcomed renowned author Dr John Briffa BSc (Hons) MB BS (Lond) to host Back in Business - strategies for optimising individual and organisational wellbeing and resilience.

The former contributing editor for Men's Health, and columnist for The Daily Mail and Observer, took to the screens of delegates worldwide, to provide an insightful look into occupational mental health and wellbeing. 

Every year occupational mental health issues cost the UK approximately 43 billion pounds, with the lion's share stemming from a rise in ‘presenteeism’.

“When people become insecure about their work, for example, they are more likely to turn up than to call in sick. The question should be, will they be effective if they do and the reality is that in many cases this, they are not. This action of being present but not consistently productive has led to something called ‘Presenteeism’: the cost of which has increased by approximately 16% since 2017.”

However, this notion of presentism being an anxious fuelled attendance can be counteracted through good leadership. In terms of well-being, it is extremely helpful to employees that there is good leadership within an organisation, and that people have to appropriate skills, strategy, experience and talent, but for this to work optimally, other things are required. 

Dr Briffa claims this combination is intrinsic to maintaining well-being within your workforce. 

“Essentially, Leadership, knowledge, strategy, experience, talent, partnered with energy, wellbeing and experience results in greater performance productivity and sustainability. If any of these key factors falter, it can affect a team’s functions, as well as the wider organisation.”

According to data from Deloitte in 2018 77% of 1,000 business professionals in full-time employment has experienced burnout in their current role, whilst 51% had reported having experienced burnout in their current role, on more than one occasion. 

Whilst 84% of Millennials said that they had suffered from burnout in their current job, with approximately half having left a job as a result of burnout. 

Accompanying this data Deloitte published a paper on mental wellbeing in the UK between 2017 and 2020 which found that whilst there is a greater social awareness of mental health issues, including less stigma and greater support for employees: there has been an increase in the prevalence of mental health problems in younger employees. 

This has resulted in the rise of ‘Leaveism’ which is the inability to disconnect from work due to technology. Dr Briffa explained how developments in technology have greatly shifted the landscape of work:

“Long gone are the days when we clock in, do some work and go home and forget about it. These days, particularly with the connectivity through the internet a lot of people find it very difficult to sort of switch off.”

However, Dr, Briffa fears that this is the tip of the iceberg, as accompanying presentism, leavism, and burnout, there has been an increase in reported uncertainty and insecurity from young people about their financial future, pre-Covid-19.

To register for the latest Covid-19 webinar or more information about IOSH Returning Safely campaign, you can do so here.