35% of employers did not speak about mental health last year

EXCLUSIVE: 75% of employers feel responsible for staff mental healthMore than a third of British employers have not spoken to their employees about their mental health and wellbeing over the past year, according to research.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) commissioned YouGov to ask businesses whether they had personally talked to their staff about their mental health over the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic-affected last 12 months.

The poll found that while nearly three out of five (59%) had spoken to their employees about it, 35% had not brought the subject up at all. Just 3% did not know or could not remember; and a further 3% preferred not to say.

Acas said it had published the findings to coincide with Time to Talk Day (3 February), which aims to support people to have mental health conversations.

In order to best manage staff mental health, the service recommends that employers are approachable, available and encourage team members to talk; keep in regular contact with their team to check how they are coping; and respect individual communication preferences by asking workers whether they prefer phone, email or video discussions.

Acas also suggests that employer representatives respect confidentiality; remain calm, patient, supportive and reassuring; and get support with their own wellbeing from a colleague at work, a mental health network or a counsellor if necessary.

Acas chief executive Susan Clews explained that the pandemic has been a “challenging” period for everyone and said she was pleased to see that most employers have chatted to their staff about their mental health and wellbeing.

“However, a third of employers have not spoken to their staff about their mental health over the past year. Taking the time to talk openly about it is vitally important as it can avoid problems building up and lead to improved morale at work,” she said.

“Acas has good advice and training on how to support and manage mental health and wellbeing at work, which includes tips on how to start those conversations.”