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Companies that address their employees’ mental health turn a higher profit, a new study has found. According to Soma Analytics, FTSE 100 businesses that used the phrases ‘mental health’ or ‘wellbeing’ more than twice in their annual reports last year enjoyed up to three times more profit than those that didn’t. Companies with two or more mentions of the phrases raked in £1.4tn last year, compared with a less impressive £563bn for the firms that used the words less frequently.

When I worked at British Steel in the 1970s we had some fatalities that were too horrific to describe here. The reaction of many? “We are not making flour”. Since then the attitude to safety has improved immeasurably. So has the attitude to much industrial disease – no longer do workers work in conditions where asbestos floats about like snow.

Mental health is the new frontier for Health and Safety and those of us in business need to wake up to the fact that attention to wellbeing and mental health is being linked to profit levels.

Spotting mental ill-health among employees is a useful starting point. A recent study be the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that:

  • 37% of sufferers are more likely to get into conflict with colleagues
  • 57% find it harder to juggle multiple tasks
  • 80% find it difficult to concentrate
  • 62% take longer to do tasks
  • 50% are potentially less patient with customers/clients.

There are also guidelines on the ACAS website for spotting change and it is change in a person’s behaviour that can signal depression or other mental challenges for the individual. Such as

  • their mood or how they interact with colleagues
  • their standard of their work or focus on tasks
  • sickness absence or promptness in attending work
  • a reduction in their motivation
  • smoking or drinking
  • energy, engagement with others or motivation for tasks in hand

Mental health is also related to the ability to cope with stress. So sufferers are more likely to experience stress and be prone to poor attendance in consequence.

ACAS provide some helpful advice on approaching those who may be suffering mental ill health here.

Malcolm Martin FCIPD

Author Human Resource Practice.

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