There are many schools of thought that believe that the need for better workplace health management is a fast reaching crescendo. The pressures on Employers to tackle the systemic causes of work-related mental health issues are increasing at a rate of knots and will no doubt continue to intensify in light of recent published statistics. Stress, anxiety and depression are just some of the work-related ill health issues that employers are dealing with, more than ever before, but can more be done by employers to combat the rise in the number of employee absences?
According to official data published from the Labour Force Survey, and as analysed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a total of 12.8 million working days were lost last year because of work-related stress, anxiety and depression. This amounts to an eye-opening average of 21.2 days lost per case. Data from the Survey also illustrated that incidences of work-related stress, depression and anxiety have increased gradually since 2014/2015, reaching a rate of 1,800 cases per 100,000 workers.
The figures continue to show that mental health was the most common type of work-related ill-health, accounting for 44% of work-related illness. Women also saw more incidences of work-related illness as there was an average of 2,020 cases per 100,000 female workers compared with that of 1,490 cases per 100,000 male workers. Workload and management styles were mentioned as the most significant contributors to work-related stress, depression and anxiety, according to HSE.
Whilst the above figures appear somewhat overwhelming, the question must be asked as to whether the statistics represent a true increase in work-related health issues or, on the more positive flipside, an increase in the number of people more willing to open up about their problems. That being said, it really is important that employers do take employee wellbeing seriously and afford it the attention that it truly requires.
Employers should continue to work hard to implement, and enforce, good and reasonable working practices that aim to enhance mental health in the workplace, and employee wellbeing all round. In a fast moving environment, employers need to be alert to monitoring workloads and ensuring that work is evenly spread amongst staff. Likewise, appropriate support and management should be offered to those employees who raise concerns or issues about their workloads. By the same token, investment in good people management is of paramount importance for employers. Old fashioned management styles are less likely to sit well in a modern workforce and poor people management may only add fuel to an already growing fire.