Just one in five employers have met new standards on mental health, set out in a key government review.
In October 2017 the Stevenson/Farmer report recommended six core standards to improve workplace mental health, and said all organisation should be capable of meeting these quickly.
But almost two years on, a new survey — by Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing — shows most employers have failed to meet these objectives.
In fact only a fifth (19 per cent) of organisations surveyed had achieved the first core standard, which asks employers to ‘produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan’.
Worryingly, almost half (48 per cent) of respondents hadn’t yet made any progress at all towards this standard, which is seen as a basic plank of any coherent mental health policy.
The survey also found that fewer than 1 in 10 of employers had met all six of the suggested core standards.
However, on a more positive note, most respondents indicated that some action was at least underway, with just 16 per cent admitting to no progress at all.
Howden’s head of benefits strategy, Steve Herbert says: “Poor workplace mental health has long been recognised as a key challenge for companies. It is the main cause of sickness absence in the UK, with estimates suggesting it costs UK employers between £33bn and £42bn each year.
“It is therefore surprising that as we approach the two-year anniversary of this review, only a fifth of employers have taken the first steps towards producing a concrete plan to tackle this important issue.”
He says the fact so few employers have yet achieved the first key objective is indicative of the challenges employers perceive in tackling this often-sensitive issue.
Herbert adds: “Our experience suggests employers are very keen to take action in this area, but often lack both the confidence and support to achieve this aim. We would strongly encourage more organisations to urgently seek professional assistance in the planning and implementing of a robust workplace mental health plan and solution.”
This survey was conducted among 150 senior HR and finance professionals.