Following new figures released this week from Business in the Community’s (BITC) third ‘Mental Health at Work’ report, Deloitte's employee experience and wellbeing lead Tim Ackroyd explains why workplace mental health should be top of the agenda for business.
Addressing mental health in the workplace has never been a more pressing issue for employers. Business leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of failing to support employees with their mental health, with an overall cost to UK employers of £33bn to £42bn each year. Indeed, figures from BITC’s ‘Mental Health at Work’ report, published this week in partnership with Mercer, shows that 61% of UK employees have experienced a mental health issue at work or where work was a contributing factor.
The professional services sector itself poses many unique workplace challenges for staff. As a client service driven business, employees work to the expectations and deadlines of clients – at the same time they look for work-life balance.
At Deloitte we know that mental health isn’t something that’s left at the office door. That’s why people leadership is a key focus for us and, with a workforce of over 16,500 people, our success relies on the way we lead our people and help others reach their potential. As such, we have built a significant organisation-wide programme around mental health – including offering Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training. Since February 2018, over 500 of our senior leaders have been trained in MHFA skills, and we’re aiming that at least one in four leaders at all levels across the business will receive the training.
Figures from BITC also show that 85% of managers acknowledge that employee wellbeing is their responsibility but only 30% of line managers’ have received any training on mental health.
Building mental health conversation skills within our leaders is an important strand of our mental health strategy and we’re working to bridge that all important gap between growing awareness amongst line managers and taking action. A major part of this approach is the training people need to help them spot the symptoms of mental health issues, offer initial help and guide a colleague towards support.
As well as MHFA training, we’ve supported the ‘This is Me’ campaign – encouraging staff across the company to share personal experiences of mental health, with positive messages. And our “Are you okay?” initiative is giving our people the confidence to speak openly about mental health.
It provides colleagues with the information they need to spot the signs that someone is struggling and start a safe conversation. This, combined with MHFA training and other measures, is encouraging people to speak out, and we’ve seen an increased proportion of people disclosing stress as a reason for absence (while our overall sickness absence days have not increased).
At Deloitte, we want to empower our people to better support their own and others’ mental health. We have some fantastic support in place and have made great progress, but we recognise there is still more to do to continue to reduce the stigma.
Our people are our most valuable asset and we urge all employers in professional services and beyond to join us in taking action to create healthier workplaces.
About Tim Ackroyd
Tim Ackroyd leads Deloitte's employee engagement and wellbeing programme.