It’s characterised by three dimensions:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- increased mental distance from your job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to your job
- reduced professional efficacy.
2017, the Stevenson Farmer Review found that 300,000 people with
long-term mental health problems lose their jobs each year. Strikingly,
this is more than those with physical illnesses. Last year, the CIPD
found that two fifths of businesses saw an increase in stress-related
It’s clear that it makes commercial sense for employers
to value their employees’ mental welfare. The annual cost of poor mental
health to employers is estimated to be between £33 billion and £42
billion, with the estimated cost to the economy as a whole resulting
from lost output being between £74 billion and £99 billion per year.
part, this is linked to the culture of presenteeism that is becoming
increasingly prevalent, as employees do not feel they can take time off
for their mental health. As a result, senior leaders are being urged to
invest in management training and take steps to ensure their employees
are effectively supervised.
These problems are
also intrinsically linked to the effect of technology on how and when
people work. The pervasive use of ‘always on’ technology (such as work
emails on our phones) means that employees can be immediately available
to colleagues and clients. This makes it increasingly difficult to
disconnect and contributes to the shifting culture around our approach
to work. The consequence is a ‘work-life blur’ rather than a ‘work-life
balance’. To address this, many organisations are looking to their
flexible working policies and allowing their workforce greater freedom
to decide when and how they work, so that they can manage their own time
more effectively. It is reported that 40% of people would choose to
work flexibly over a pay rise.
Another widely reported cause of
work place stress at the moment is ‘Brexit anxiety’. It’s estimated that
a third of people feel Brexit has had a negative impact on their mental
health. With the UK’s departure date from the EU currently set for the
end of October 2019 and with the implications of Brexit on many of our
personal and professional lives still unclear, it’s surely no surprise
(whether you are for, against or still don’t know) that Brexit is a
considerable burden on the country’s minds.
While the stigma
around mental health has been eroded in recent years, the workplace is
still likely to be one of the last places that people want to talk about
sensitive issues or risk appearing vulnerable in front of colleagues.
The balance for employers to strike is addressing mental health problems
in the workplace in meaningful and proportionate ways, but without
being overly invasive. That can, of course, be easier said than done,
but there’s plenty of information available to employers and plenty of
organisations, such as Mind, who are willing to help.