Headspace’s 2023 Workforce Attitudes (WFA) report delved into employee and employer insights regarding mental health in the workplace, and revealed one in three British workers feel their employer isn’t doing enough to support mental health, and more than half (63%) admit they have missed at least one day of work every 12 months due to stress, anxiety, or other mental health challenges.
Despite the NHS offering support services, with mental health care waitlists of 1.2 million, many will wait up to a year to be seen. Delayed diagnosis or treatment can have serious impacts on the individual, their loved ones, and their employers. The WFA report revealed 40% of employees want access to mental health services 24/7, with many stating it is the most important benefit they seek when searching for a new role. The report further detailed there is appetite for employers to better these benefits; 94% of HR workers say they feel increased responsibility to improve company culture and support workplace mental health, and 86% of employers agree that mental health benefits are key to recruiting talent.
The case for investing in mental health is supported from Deloitte, as data showed the investment is a good business decision, with an estimated £5 return on every £1 spent. And there are many ways employers can improve mental health at work.
Mindful leadership and culture
Leaders and managers can play an important role to normalise the conversation around mental health, and pave the way for staff to open up. 76% of those in a leadership role in the UK speak openly about their mental health, and this is positively received by over 74% of employees, who find it easier to trust senior leadership and speak more openly about their own difficulties. Supporting this with line manager training, Employee Resource Groups and ongoing education and awareness initiatives can contribute to a compassionate culture where there is a sense of psychological safety to reach out for early support. It’s important to reach all parts of the organisation, not just the proportion who are already “wellbeing engaged”. Delivering flexible holistic solutions and creative comms that meet individuals on their journey whether they’re well or unwell is key.
Embedding mindfulness and meditation practices
When mindfulness is integrated into the workplace, employees feel more secure in being themselves and perform to their best ability. Using Headspace for only 10 days has been proven to decrease stress levels by 11%. The measurable result of a mindful work environment extends to a reduced number of sick days, and increased productivity (WFA 2023 – 29% employees reported increased productivity from efforts to support employee mental health in the workplace).
How to incorporate mindfulness at work:
- Remind employees to consciously breathe deeply during the day
- Plan meetings and be mindful of colleague’s time
- Focus on one important area each day you want to improve
- Be intentional about carving out time in your schedule to practise mindfulness.
Meditation and mindfulness can take many forms and be applied to a variety of situations that impact the working professional. A sleep deprived parent can access mindful parenting meditations, helping them focus juggling work and family life. For employees who struggle to balance positive physical and mental health alongside their workload, Headspace’s ‘Walking at Home’ or ‘How To Beat Workplace Burnout’ content helps provide support in personal and professional prioritisation.
Providing access to a full-suite solution
Headspace recently launched International Care, a mental health solution for the workplace. Members receive 24/7 access to Headspace behavioural health coaches, offering tools preventing poor mental health, building coping skills and managing daily stressors. Coaching is delivered via text so employees get support in real time. Or for more acute clinical needs, therapeutic counselling services are available with licensed therapists.
The financial upside of this is clear. Cost-effective support through coaching can be leveraged for employees, reserving clinical solutions for those that really need it. 80% of members using Headspace’s stepped-care model had their needs fully met via coaching and content.
Burnout is prevalent within many industries, with 31% of the British workforce stating burnout affects their stress levels and work, 96% state that their work is impacted by feelings of stress. However, since 2022 the feelings of Burnout have decreased by 30%.
It is down to the employer and employee to support mental health. Since 2022, there has been a 28% increase in employees stating their mental health services at work have improved, and 93% of working Brits now rate their mental health support as good.
Simon Miller is international partnerships director at Headspace