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Mental Health in the workplace – it’s an inclusion issue

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Would you feel comfortable disclosing your mental health issue to your employer?  We would like to think that with more openness about Mental Health in the media employees would feel able to discuss this in the workplace.  Sadly, however, there is still a huge stigma around this area.

A recent report released this year by Business in the Community has revealed that 3 out of 5 employees have experienced mental health issues in the past year because of work and almost a third of the workforce have been formally diagnosed with a mental health issue.

However what is most alarming is that the report highlights that just 11% of those contacted felt able to disclose their mental health issue with their line manager.  

Worrying statistics and if employers are committed to fully embracing diversity and inclusion alarm bells should be ringing.   What are you doing to create an environment where employees feel that they are able to disclose their mental health status without suffering stigma?

In 2013 Deloitte issued a report, Uncovering Talent – A new model of inclusion, looking at the issue of “covering” in the context of workplace inclusion.  Covering in the context of mental health is most easily understood as the ways that people choose to disguise aspects of themselves in order to fit in.  The Deloitte research found that an incredible
61% of the workforce in their sample ‘covered’ at work.   The practice of covering was cited as being detrimental to people’s sense of self; likely also to present mental health challenges.   So what does this mean for Business Leaders?  

Inclusion is not just about those who are different. Think about inclusion as being a critical consideration for all of the people in your workforce. Don’t forget that an inclusion improvement for one group of people is often of benefit to others; flexible working tools and scheduling for working parents can benefit those with temporary or variable illnesses.

Recognise that, as well as being the right thing to do, there’s a business imperative too. Absenteeism of any kind has a bottom line impact – it reduces productivity, increases the likelihood of needing expensive interim staff, and can burden company funded employee health care schemes.

If the individual decides to work on through without the benefit of your company’s support there could be productivity issues and performance management complications. If the individual ultimately decides to leave then there will be the costs of finding a replacement and lost
productivity whilst the new person is being inducted. There is also the
possible impact on colleagues and wider business productivity too.

Workplace inclusion is serious business. Getting it wrong can have serious implications.

Leave no one behind.

About Steven

Steven has extensive experience in strategic executive leadership having led large business units at Fujitsu. Steven has had full and operational delivery responsibility for $1bn annual revenue business, including sales / growth, of full-service range (consultancy and change programmes, to operational IT services) to multiple clients. Leading business through changes in strategic direction, crisis management, transformational turnarounds especially those delivering business critical services to clients such as Public Sector / National Government. Steven engages well with C-suite executives and senior stakeholders, including in previous roles with UK Government Cabinet Ministers.


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