Just 13% of senior business decision makers in the financial services industry feel they are given enough support to help employees with mental health issues

And, only a quarter (24%) think employees at their organisation feel comfortable speaking out about mental health issues

New research has found that 41% of senior business decision makers in the financial services industry are aware of employees at their current organisation suffering from a mental health issue, with 14% aware of employees who have had to leave their job because of their mental health.

The YouGov study, commissioned by leading job board, totaljobs, surveyed senior business decision makers in the financial services industry to find out their opinions on mental health in the workplace.

Despite high numbers of staff suffering from mental health issues, just a quarter (24%) of the senior business decision makers say that their employees feel comfortable speaking about it with them. A further 12% say there is a greater ‘stigma’ towards mental health conditions than physical ones in the workplace.

The study also showed that only 13% of the senior business decision makers believe they are given enough support and advice regarding how to deal with mental health issues in the workplace.

Many employers now offer health and well-being services to their staff, to help support their general welfare in the workplace. Of those surveyed, the most prevalent service offered was flexible working hours, followed by encouragement of regular breaks and gym memberships.

Top 5 mental health and well-being services offered by legal firms to their employees:

  • Flexible working hours (65%)
  • Encouragement of regular breaks (34%)
  • Gym memberships (free or discounted) (33%)
  • Counselling (free or paid-for) (30%)
  • Provision of quiet areas inside the workplace (27%)

Expert comment:

Nina Fryer, Senior Lecturer in Health and Nutrition at Leeds Trinity University, alongside colleague Dr Ian Kenvyn has recently evaluated the effects of the stigma of mental health in the workplace, for Mindful Employer Leeds. Their research shows that with 1 in 4 people experiencing mental ill-health at some point in their lifetime, the workplace has a huge potential to have a positive impact on this.

Nina said: “One of the best things an employer can do is to uncover the ‘elephant in the room’ that is mental health. This can be achieved through providing visual and verbal information on mental health support, such as posting where to find mental health support on staff notice boards and in staff common areas.

“It is also important to introduce discussions about mental health and positive well-being into appraisals. Offering training to managers in how to initiate and follow up conversations about mental health, provides a pathway for employees who are suffering to take action. Finally, ensuring that men are represented in communication around mental health is important, as we know that men, in particular, are more reluctant to discuss it.

“One of the largest barriers to people seeking support with mental health issues in the workplace is the stigma that they feel is associated with it, and the concern that they will be appraised or judged negatively if they do disclose.”

Quote from totaljobs:

John Salt, Group Sales Director, at totaljobs, added: “In recent years mental health issues have started to be more openly discussed in the workplace. Unfortunately, there are still many organisations and industries where this isn’t the case.

“It is important that employers create a working environment in which their staff feel comfortable and safe in disclosing confidential information. But it is equally vital that managers have adequate training and support in order to help their employees with mental health concerns.”

Case study:

Lanes Group, a leading drainage specialist, believes in the importance of looking after the well-being of its workforce, and has recently launched an app to monitor and support how its employees are feeling on a daily basis.

Debi Bell, Head of HR Services, said: “Looking after our staff and ensuring they are happy to come to work is very important to Lanes Group. We’re a family-run company and caring for others has always been a big part of how we work together as a team.

“In 2015, we carried out a full review of HR procedures, which included a staff survey called What Matters Most. A key objective was to be clear about how our staff wanted to be treated as team members and valued individuals. We believe that if the company makes it clear that it wants to treat its staff with respect, managers and supervisors will act with greater care. That way, they will be in a better position to pick up on mental health and well-being issues as they arise.

“As a result of the What Matters Most survey, we introduced a number of measures, such as sending out cards and gifts for birthdays, achievements and major milestones. We have also increased the number of events we organise, and involvement with community support schemes and charity fund-raising. The response from our staff has been very positive, as they feel more valued and involved in Lanes company life.

“We have recently developed an app for our employees who work on one of our main wastewater contracts. Our teams have challenging jobs, as they have to work under time pressure, using some of the UK’s most sophisticated specialist drainage technology. Therefore, supporting their well-being and mental health has always been a priority and the Happiness app is our latest initiative.

“We are a very digitally-advanced utilities company – our operational teams use smartphones to communicate with each other, receive job notifications and record jobs as they are being done. Before each shift employees can open the Happiness app, and answer questions on how happy they feel in that moment. They have five choices, from ‘Very unhappy’ to ‘Very happy’. If they answer ‘Very unhappy’, they are offered another choice, ‘Do you want to talk to someone about why you are very unhappy?’ If they answer ‘Yes’, their line manager is notified, and will get in touch with the colleague to see if they can help.

“The app records data every day, and will allow us to build a picture of workforce well-being over time and geographically throughout our operational hubs. It gives our colleagues a daily opportunity to say how they feel, ask for help if they need it, and give us information that will help us build and a better health and well-being strategy.

“We realise that we have started a journey with the app. It will only work if colleagues trust us as a company, and see that our commitment to offer support when we can is genuine. It is also just one way we engage with, and involve, our employees. Fostering well-being and improving the mental health in the workplace can only be achieved by continuous effort across a number of fronts.”

For more information on mental health in the workplace, visit our hub: 

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