Only a fifth of employers have met the first of the “core standards” recommended by a government-commissioned report into improving the mental health of employees, it has been suggested.
Just 19% of senior HR and finance professionals surveyed by Howden’s employee benefits and wellbeing division said they had achieved the first standard put forward by the Thriving at Work review to “produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan”.
Almost half (48%) of the 150 people polled had not made any progress at all towards this standard.
Head of benefits strategy Steve Herbert said: “Poor workplace mental health has long been recognised as a key challenge for companies. It is the main cause of sickness absence in the UK, with estimates suggesting it costs UK employers between £33bn and £42bn each year.
“The first core standard is a vital milestone for any organisation serious about improving their workforce mental health. The fact that so few employers have yet achieved even this level of compliance with the recommendations is indicative of the challenges employers perceive in tackling this often-sensitive issue.”
Fewer than one in 10 employers had met all six of the recommended standards, which also include: “develop mental health awareness among employees”, “encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling”, “routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing”, “provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work life balance and opportunities for development” and “promote effective people management through line managers and supervisors”.
However, the majority of those polled said they had made some progress to meeting the standards. Only 16% admitted they had made no progress at all.
Herbert recommended that employers seek professional assistance in implementing a workplace mental health plan to improve their confidence in dealing with a sometimes sensitive area.