Mandatory reporting would improve staff mental health, a third of firms say

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Almost a third (30%) of employers think mandatory reporting of workplace mental health statistics would help make organisations more accountable for staff wellbeing, a survey has found.

Only 14% of HR professionals surveyed by Howden’s Employee Benefits & Wellbeing division disagreed that increasing transparency around what organisations were doing to improve the mental health of their employees would help address the issue, while more than half (52%) were open to the idea, subject to the requirements.

The survey of more than 150 HR practitioners asked whether mandatory public reporting of workplace mental health statistics, which was suggested in the Thriving at work Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers two years ago, would help UK employers better tackle the issue.

The review recommended that employers consider producing an annual report on mental health to be shared with all employees and, potentially, with the public. Such a report would include: a statement from the individual accountable for the plan, priorities for the next period,  data from staff surveys or “mood tracker” results, sickness absence data, engagement in mental health activities or take-up of support, or mental health disclosure rates within the organisation.

Steve Herbert, head of benefits strategy at Howden, said: “The enhanced standards were suggested by the Stevenson/Farmer review two years ago, but they were initially only targeted at larger employers in the UK. So we are delighted that many organisations of all sizes appear to now recognise the advantages of such an approach.

“Poor workplace mental health is often a hidden issue.  As such it will benefit all concerned if company level data was made public, and it would also provide the foundation for many more employers to take corrective actions as necessary.”

The survey results, published ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10 October, also revealed that almost half (44%) of HR professionals thought poor mental health, anxiety or stress accounted for between 20% and 40% of the total number of sick days taken in their organisation. One in 10 said these represented more than half of sick days taken.

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