63% feel obliged to put organisational interests ahead of staff wellbeing

Louise Aston BITC

Almost two-thirds (63%) of manager respondents feel that they are required to put the interests of the organisation above the wellbeing of their team, according to research by Business in the Community (BITC).

Its Mental health at work report, which is based on a survey of 3,036 UK employees, a public survey of 16,246 individuals, and a sample of responses to a YouGov panel of more than 600,000 individuals in the UK, also found that 62% of employee respondents have experienced poor mental health where work has been a contributing factor.

The research also found:

  • 23% of employee respondents have access to an employee assistance programme (EAP), and 2% of employee respondents made use of an EAP during their most recent symptoms of poor mental health.
  • More than half (56%) of employee respondents who have disclosed symptoms of poor mental health to the organisation they work for say that their employer did not take any mitigating action.
  • 49% of employee respondents would not talk to their manager about mental health.
  • 97% of senior manager respondents believe they are accessible if employees want to talk to them about mental health.
  • 76% of manager respondents believe employee wellbeing is their responsibility.
  • 32% of manager respondents cite a lack of adequate training as an organisational barrier to supporting staff wellbeing, 26% cite insufficient time for one-to-one meetings, and 22% feel that having to focus on performance targets is a barrier.
  • 40% of manager respondents are not confident responding to symptoms such as panic attacks, depression, and mood swings.
  • 86% of respondents do not approach a colleague they are concerned about out of fear of interfering or not knowing what to do.
  • 60% of respondents at board member and senior manager level believe their organisation supports staff with mental ill health.

Louise Aston (pictured), wellbeing director at Business in the Community, said: “It is good that mental wellbeing is on the radar for leaders and managers, but this is still not translating into the right workplace cultures or adequate support for employees experiencing poor mental health.

“Employers must accept the scale of mental ill health in the workplace and start taking a preventative approach now. This means getting the work culture right in the first place so that they promote good work and work-life balance.

“Progress will only happen when employers approach mental ill health as they would physical ill health; doing what they can to prevent ill health occurring or escalating, and ensuring proper support for employees when it happens. Employees must feel that the workplace is supportive of, rather than, detrimental to their mental health.”