The hidden costs of ignoring mental health
Being shackled to your desk for unnaturally long hours and constantly working towards tight deadlines can seem standard for accountants, but should it be this way? We're not saying that being kept busy is a bad thing, but staying in a stressful state for long periods can quickly snowball into chronic stress, leading to poor mental health.
Mental health is still a topic that firms often shy away from, but ignoring it could cost you. Poor mental health is responsible for the loss of 72 million working days every year, costing UK businesses almost £35 billion each year – that’s an eye-watering figure. As today is World Mental Health Day, we’re highlighting 3 ways poor mental health can impact your employees and the day to day running of your firm.
Earlier this year, we sat down with Kirsty Birch, an accountant and a workplace mental health and wellbeing trainer. During the webinar, which you can watch back here, Kirsty discussed how poor mental health impacts the workspace, and the costly consequences of ignoring them. Let’s dive into it.
1. Increase in absenteeism
Absenteeism costs UK businesses a whopping £6 billion every year – and that's just the recorded stats! Presenteeism on the other hand, which is when an employee turns up to work despite feeling unwell, costs UK businesses £28 billion each year. This is due to mistakes being made or work not being done correctly.
When an employee is stressed, they are more likely to miss work. And if they return to an office where no adjustments have been made, they will continue to suffer, and will not be able to work to their full potential. If changes are never implemented, employees will continue to miss more days and become more stressed, , leaving your firm stuck in a never-ending loop.
What can you do to prevent absenteeism and presenteeism?
First things first, strive to create a non-judgmental environment. Mental health problems affect, everyone. We need to break down the stigma around conversations about it. Any business can have blind spots, so if there is a toxic workplace culture lurking under the surface of your firm, employees may hesitate to ask for help because they’re afraid, they’ll be judged. So, why not try distributing anonymous surveys, hosting regular focus groups, or even offering one-to-one check-ins with your team.
Another solution could be to offer more flexibility. Offering more flexible working hours or remote working options can help those who are struggling to find a healthier work-life balance.
2. Lack in motivation
To improve your workplace’s approach to mental health, you must understand the signs of poor mental health to look out for. There may be subtle changes in the appearance or behaviour of employees who are suffering. For example, there may be a decrease in personal hygiene, or they might just not be showing up to work as their usual bubbly self. For remote colleagues, signs can be harder to notice. Keep an eye out for things like a decline in job performance or complaints about poor physical health (e.g. headaches).
If you don’t take action early, it could lead to your employees’ mental wellbeing worsening, resulting in a further decrease in concentration and motivation. This could then result in a drop in productivity, it could lead to poor customer service, and ultimately, affect the quality of your business’ output.
What can you do?
Keep in mind that signs and symptoms can vary amongst individuals, but by knowing what to look out for, you can offer support sooner rather than later. Create channels to support employees – this could be an Employee Assistance Program or another wellbeing initiative. Above all, make sure to listen, watch and respond. You never know what's really going on in someone’s life, especially behind the scenes.
3. Employee resentment
As an employer, it’s your duty to provide a safe and healthy working environment for your employees. If a team member’s mental health is damaged due to poor work culture and negligence, and your firm has failed to create reasonable adjustments to support them, this can lead to resentment. This can lead to high turnover rates and even negative reviews on employer review websites. Nobody wants a bad online review, as it could prevent top talent from applying to your firm, limiting your growth potential.
What can you do?
Train your firm’s management team so they can identify signs of poor mental health, learn how to approach these employees, and how to best support them. On top of that, educating your team on mental health can positively impact your firm’s culture. Make sure everyone is setting realistic goals, and adjust your company policies to reflect a more stress-free environment.
Neglecting mental health in any firm is a dangerous game to play. By implementing a more proactive approach, you can build and maintain a healthier work environment that supports the long-term success of your firm.
To watch back our webinar with Kirsty Birch on how to better manage mental health in the workplace, please click the link below.
Written by Eleanor Vaughey | Bright
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Bright was created in 2021 when Thesaurus Software Ltd. and Relate Software Ltd. decided to join forces. Bright is a leading provider of accounting, payroll, tax and HR solutions to businesses across the UK and Ireland. We help thousands of accountants, bookkeepers and small to mid-sized businesses become more productive and efficient with our...