This article published in January by Deloitte clearly explained the potential negative impact of remote working on employee mental health. Just weeks later, we were all thrown into a situation where we were all doing this with the additional pressure of social isolation, uncertainty about the future and, for some, redundancy or furlough.
There has been enough press over the months explaining the impact of Covid-19 on mental health, relatively little on what employers can do to support it. This is one reason that I wrote this article and have also been working with South Westminster Business Improvement Districts, charity MQ and Give a Grad a Go to offer free resources to employers and employees alike.
Reflecting back on Deloitte’s analysis now, it is important to note that for organisations that to invest on supporting their people’s mental health, the return on investment is £5 for every £1 spent. This is a combination of increased productivity, performance and collaboration as well as reduced presenteeism, absenteeism and staff turnover.
Rebecca George OBE, Deloitte Vice Chair and UK Public Sector leader, and Deloitte director, Elizabeth Hampson, both highlight that early intervention is key, preventing more in-depth support that may otherwise be needed at a later stage. Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, reiterates this explaining that forward-thinking employers save money in the long run.
This all emphasises that companies who are reducing their investment in employee wellness and workplace mental health support, may be paying for it. Furthermore, this not be obvious as many companies have seen that absenteeism rates have reduced since lockdown. However, presenteeism costs three times more than sick leave, therefore if you have noticed this trend, it could be time to reflect a little deeper. Just one example of these findings is that presenteeism in those aged 18-29 costs employers the equivalent of 8.3% of these individuals. Again, early intervention through workplace wellness programmes, coaching, leadership training and other resources could prevent this.
I therefore ask you to reflect today. Have you seen changes in absenteeism since lockdown?
If you have seen a decrease, why do you think this is
– People are taking care of their physical health
– It is the commute the often prevents people coming to work
– Individuals are concerned about redundancy so don’t want to take time off
– Employees don’t want to let down others when the pressure is on
– Something else?