Almost one in three employers want mandatory public reporting of workplace mental health statistics to help tackle this growing issue.
In total, 30 per cent of employers surveyed by Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing, said compulsory disclosure of this information would increase transparency and accountability.
This survey follows recommendations made in the Thriving at Work report by Stevenson and Farmer, which called for larger employers and public sector organisations to implement a set of “enhanced” standards to improve the collective mental health of these employees.
The suggested standards include increasing transparency through internal and external reporting, demonstrating accountability, and improving the disclosure process.
Howden’s found that while one in three employers were supportive of this suggestions, more than half (52 per cent) were open to the idea, subject to the detail of the requirements. Only 14 per cent of organisations thought these measures would not help.
Howden’s head of benefits strategy, Steve Herbert says: “The enhanced standards were suggested two years ago, but they were initially only targeted at larger employers in the UK.”
He adds that this survey appears to show that organisations of all sizes now recognise the advantages of such an approach.
Herbert points to the recent introduction of gender and executive pay gap reporting as examples of mandatory reporting of workplace issues, resulting in an additional and specific focus from employers.
He says if the same approach were applied to workplace mental health statistics, it might well produce a similarly positive response.
Herbert adds: “Poor workplace mental health is often a hidden issue. As such it will benefit all concerned if company level data was made public, and it would also provide the foundation for many more employers to take corrective actions as necessary. It will be interesting to see if such an approach becomes mandated by legislation across a wide range of employers.”
The survey also found that employers may be experiencing very different levels of ill-health absenteeism as a result of poor mental health, anxiety, or stress.
Almost half (44 per cent) of respondents thought these conditions accounted for between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of their total sickness absence figures.
But other responses suggested a very wide variance indeed, with 1 in 10 employers suggesting that these conditions accounted for more than half of their corporate absenteeism, and the same number indicating that these conditions were the cause of less than 10 per cent of overall absence.
Herbert concluded: “It is clear poor workplace mental health is bad news for both the employee and the employer and is a measure that all good organisations are now actively looking to improve.
“There is a wide-range of employee benefits offerings that can help, and we would strongly encourage more employers to seek professional assistance in using these tools as part of a robust mental health plan and solution.”