With mental health absenteeism on the rise, companies urged to do more

Firms are being urged to pay closer attention to the wellbeing of their employees after a study found that almost a third of businesses have seen an increase in the number of workers taking time off for mental health reasons.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said its research also showed an increase in the length of time staff are taking off.

A survey of 1,000 business leaders suggested that firms are more aware of mental health concerns and the topic is less taboo in the office.

Some employers are reviewing workloads and flexible working options, offering counselling for staff and training for managers.

But half of those polled admitted they did not access occupational health support for their staff.

Adam Marshall (pictured), BCC director general, said: “As the world of work changes, it is absolutely crucial for business leaders to pay ever closer attention to the health and wellbeing of their employees, especially at a time when firms are facing severe challenges finding and retaining the skilled staff they need.

“While legions of firms are now more aware of mental health concerns and acting accordingly, far too many businesses are still turning a blind eye to this issue, which saps productivity, morale and individual wellbeing.

“Our message today is that it is no longer acceptable for firms to ignore mental health in the workplace, and all companies need to step up their game.”

Dr Doug Wright, medical director at insurance firm Aviva, which helped with the study, added: “It is worrying to see almost a third of businesses have seen an increase in people taking time off for mental health reasons and whilst some of this increase may be down to staff feeling more able to discuss the issue of mental health which is, in itself, good news, it also suggests that more can be done to help.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Victoria Jones / PA Wire.