Kavitha’s keynote: Employers must prioritise mental health and wellbeing

Kavitha's keynote

This week has seen the issue of mental wellbeing take centre stage, thanks to Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 13 to 19 May.

The initiative, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, highlights just how widespread the matter is, the impact that mental health issues can have within organisations, and the role employers must take in providing the right support for staff. Anxiety and depression, for example, can be key factors that contribute to increased presenteeism and absence, and can negatively affect productivity, engagement and morale.

However, as we reported earlier this week, research by payroll and HR solutions provider ADP found that more than three in five employees in Europe do not think their employer is interested in their mental health and wellbeing. In addition, almost one in three would not feel comfortable disclosing a mental health issue at work, with only half admitting they would tell their close friends or colleagues about a problem.

Jeff Phipps, ADP’s managing director, UK and Ireland, believes senior figures should openly communicate around the topic and lead by example; by addressing the issue across the organisation, employers can create a more motivated, engaged and driven workforce.

Certainly, some employers are taking steps to improve their support for staff in this area. This week, retail and commercial bank TSB and Bristol-based PR firm Speed signed the Time to Change pledge, run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, which encourages organisations to implement action plans to support the mental health and wellbeing of their workforces. They joined the 1,000-plus employers that have already made this commitment to challenge stigma and provide a supportive and open working environment.

Another significant development this week is the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling that European Union (EU) member states must require employers to measure the duration of time worked by each employee. This has to include both normal hours and overtime to ensure staff are not working beyond the legal maximum number of hours, and that they receive stipulated daily and weekly rest periods.

Alan Price, chief executive officer at BrightHR, explained that even though the UK is in the process of leaving the EU, the CJEU ruling is binding on UK courts and will be applied in future. However, he added that there is the potential that working time rules may be amended once Brexit takes place, so the long-term impact of the ruling in the UK is still unclear.


Kavitha Sivasubramaniam
Tweet: @kavithasiva_EB