Mental health in the workplace: 9 Reasons why it needs to be a priority


9 reasons for prioritising mental health in the workplace

1. Absenteeism

2. Disengagement and lack of motivation

3. Duty of care

4. Employee burnout

5. Financial implications

6. CSR credentials

7. Talent acquisition

8. Employee retention

9. Risk to people and business

Make employee mental health your number 1 priority with Sodexo Engage


Mental health in the workplace: 9 Reasons why it needs to be a priority


Monday 10th October is World Mental Health Day, and the week of the 10th to 14th October is National Work Life week; both are crucial platforms to discuss mental health and stress in the workplace.


This year, the World Mental Health Day message is about making mental health our ‘Number 1’ priority. Alongside this, the National Work Life campaign, organised by Working Families, aims to facilitate the growth of flexible working in all business areas, suggesting that it’s more important than ever given the cost-of-living crisis.


At Sodexo Engage, every day is about raising awareness of the importance of taking care of mental health in the workplace. We provide award-winning products, wellbeing packages, and employee assistant programmes that enable employers to do just this.


9 Reasons for prioritising mental health in the workplace

There are 120 hours in the working week, and ideally, we spend 40 of those sleeping. Full-time employees work an average of 36.5-38 hours per week, which means that out of the 80 where they're awake, they spend 45.6–47.50% of that time working.


1. Absenteeism

A report by Statista in 2020, found that the average level of absence in the United Kingdom was 5.8 days per employee. You'll see this stat a lot if you read about the benefits of establishing an employee wellbeing programme. What you may not see as often is that this has decreased from the 7.6 days recorded in 2013.


We can argue that increased awareness of safeguarding employees’ wellbeing has been a significant factor in the reduction. 


2. Disengagement and Lack of Motivation

Further to the above, disengaged employees have 37% higher absenteeism rates.


Even when your business has a positive culture and wellbeing initiatives in place, if an employee is under considerable stress in their personal life, it impacts their focus, motivation, and engagement at work by up to 18%.


It pays to create a supportive environment where managers understand personal struggles. Incorporating wellbeing packages into your business, such as discounted gym memberships, or offering financial support through an employee cashback scheme are effective measures you can take to ease employee stress and financial worries.


3. Duty of Care

It’s a given that some working environments are more stressful than others, but there is a legal responsibility on employers to perform risk assessments and protect employees where possible. The HSE provides guidelines and templates for employers of all business sizes and industries.


Employers have a duty of care to alleviate stress in the workplace because when stress becomes unmanageable, there are risks to the employee’s mental health. One highly stressed employee can impact the entire workforce, creating a hostile environment and increasing the pressure on colleagues during times of absence.

4. employee Burnout

Burnout is a state of physical and mental exhaustion, often misdiagnosed - to the employee's detriment - and resulting from prolonged periods of stress.

A study on occupational burnout found that severe burnout accounted for 52 excess sickness absence days. When untreated, burnout can lead to mental and physical health problems and even drug and alcohol abuse.


5. Financial Implications

Workplace absences cost UK businesses approx. £14 billion annually, and 48% of people suffering from a mental health-related illness cited workplace stress as the cause. We could prevent a substantial amount of this loss by prioritising mental health in the workplace.


Furthermore, according to the Centre for Mental Health, poor mental health leads to reduced productivity costing businesses an additional £21.2 billion annually. Add in the £3.1 billion associated with the cost of replacing employees who leave their roles for mental health reasons, and you have an overall loss of £35 billion.


6. CSR Credentials

Your customers are becoming more mindful of where and with whom they spend and partner. A company with a strong focus on employee wellbeing will favour businesses that align with their values.


It pays to get on board with employee wellbeing since, in 2019, REBA found that in the private sector, 67.6% of organisations surveyed had employee wellbeing strategies in place, increasing to 77.5% in the public sector. If your organisation isn't contributing to this percentage, you could be missing out on business opportunities.  


7. Talent Acquisition

Potential employees also favour employers with established wellbeing strategies, and 65% of workers would reject a job that didn’t allow for remote working, with 40% willing to accept a lower salary if remote working is available.


The National Work Life campaign focuses on hybrid and remote working as measures employers can take to enhance employees' mental health and wellbeing, mirroring this increasing demand.


8. Employee Retention

According to recent findings, 45% of employed people are actively looking for a new job, 32% would resign without having another job, and 30% have quit within the first 90 days.


Wellbeing policies aren’t only crucial for talent acquisition; they contribute to the decision to leave a business in favour of an organisation with employee benefit and mental wellbeing policies in place.


9. Risk to people and Business

Stress impacts the brain’s ability to make rational decisions, and in some workplaces and professions, that creates a risk to lives. Though this is extreme, no employer is immune because poor business decisions and errors could lead to the loss of valued customers, as well causing financial and reputational damage.



MAKE employee mental health your number 1 prioity with sodexo engage

As employee engagement experts with employee benefits ready to be incorporated into your business, we can reduce the financial implications of absenteeism and disengagement.


Our employee assistance programme and mental wellbeing packages will empower you and your employees to prioritise mental health in and out of the workplace, leading to physical and mental health improvements.


Combining these into a bespoke, inclusive, and financially beneficial employee recognition and support strategy will boost your employees’ power to perform, with measurable benefits to the business.


We’ve been proudly supporting businesses with their wellbeing initiatives for over 60 years, so if you want to learn more about this and how we can specifically help your company, get in touch with the team here today.



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