Poor mental health reducing workplace productivity levels

The effects of poor mental health, anxiety and depression are significantly undermining the productivity of many firms across Britain, just when businesses need to be at their strongest to cope with the recession, HR body the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has said.

It has found in a survey of more than 2,000 employees that a quarter of UK workers describe their mental health as moderate or poor, with more than 90% of respondents suffering from poor mental health reporting that it affects their performance on the job.

The CIPD survey found that the majority of people with poor mental health continued to attend work, with only more than half of employees with poor mental health saying they have taken time off sick as a result, and almost all (98%) continuing to attend work regularly.

Yet barely four in 10 said their organisation supported people with mental health problems well.

And the consequences could be serious. Nearly four out of five of those with poor mental health said they found it difficult to concentrate at work as a result of their illness, with nearly six out of 10 saying they take longer to do work.

Exactly half of respondents said they put off challenging tasks as a result of going in to work with poor mental health, and 46% reporting they were less patient with customers and clients, 41% believing poor mental health interfered with their ability to make decisions, and 36% feeling they were likely to get into conflict with colleagues.

Ben Willmott, senior public policy adviser at the CIPD, said: “The starting point for addressing poor mental health at work is good people management by front-line managers and supervisors.”

Last month, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Effectiveness published guidance on how to promote better mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, arguing employers could save £250,000 a year as a result.

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