This week, 30 well-known organisations including Barclays, E.On UK, John Lewis Partnership, National Grid, Royal Mail, Proctor and Gamble, Santander UK, Unilever UK and Ireland, and Virgin Money, became the first to sign the Mental Health at Work Commitment.
The commitment, which was developed by mental health charities in conjunction with trade bodies and employers, comprises a framework of six standards that signatories must adhere to in order to create an environment that makes a difference to employee wellbeing and in which staff can thrive. These are:
- Prioritise mental health in the workplace by developing and delivering a systematic programme of activity.
- Proactively ensure work design and organisational culture drive positive mental health outcomes.
- Promote an open culture around mental health.
- Increase organisational confidence and capability.
- Provide mental health tools and support.
- Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting.
The need to support employees’ mental health and wellbeing is now recognised as an issue by an increasing number of employers; however, many previous initiatives aimed at tackling mental health problems in the workplace have failed to achieve the desired impact.
According to research published by Canada Life this week, almost one in five (19%) say that they attended work while suffering from mental ill-health. An increasing proportion of respondents also reported finding it easier to take time off when suffering from a physical condition than a mental health issue; 40% said this was the case, compared with 28% in 2018.
Organisations that achieve the final item on the list of Mental Health at Work Commitment’s standards, to successfully increase transparency around mental health issues, may well find this to be a key trigger in changing perceptions and overcoming the remaining stigma attached to such conditions.
Reporting mental health data signifies an employer’s commitment to recognising and validating conditions, along with its willingness to take these seriously and provide support where needed.
Such openness can go a long way towards creating an environment in which employees feel comfortable speaking up about their mental health and asking for support when required; all of which will, ultimately, be reflected in a positive employer brand.