Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace
For many people across the UK and within a number of developing countries, dealing with mental health within the workplace is a struggle. According to a recent report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the leading causes of work sickness and absence are common mental disorders including anxiety, depression and stress.
Pair this with the fact that job satisfaction and security are still at low levels following the recession, UK productivity per worker is not at its best, and the need for an improved health and wellbeing at work strategy is needed.
Cary Cooper, co-chair of the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing at Work, believes that leading employer organisations can stimulate a movement to change policy and practice surrounding wellbeing in the workplace. He argues that this can be done by inspiring people and organisations to challenge their thinking about the opportunities that healthy high performing people can bring to work and the economy.
At the inaugural gathering of the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing at Work, the forum agreed that with the help of international experts, a number of issues will be explored, including:
- The role of line managers in creating healthier workplaces and enhancing productivity
- The impact of technology on people's lives
- The impact of the multi-generational workforce on health and wellbeing
- The effect of a long working hours culture and its impact on health
- Flexible working
- How to help the SME sector to create ‘good work’
With the aid of leading scholars, the forum develops policies and guidelines for good practice. It will then work with the relevant government departments, businesses and public sector bodies to create awareness and improve conditions for workers across the country.
It is fair to say that, although the UK has come far in recognising the importance of mental health, it still has a very long way to go. As the once great British social reformer John Ruskin said in 1871: “In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: they must be fit for it, they must not do too much of it, and they must have a sense of success in it”.
It is hoped that the efforts of the forum will have positive impacts for the health of employees, as well as closing the productivity gap that exists within the UK.