Tue 20 Aug 2019

Workplace wellbeing - August 2019

Our regular look at mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

The idea of holidays brings with it the possibility of relaxation, recharging batteries and for those in need, hopefully improved mental health.  Unfortunately research by Westfield Health suggests that the opposite may be true over the summer months - suggesting nearly half of UK employees were found to be suffering from chronic stress at work over that period.  Common sources of worry include an inability to switch off while on holiday - either literally through responding to work emails during holidays or just by worrying about it - and concerns about childcare and the cost of keeping kids occupied during school holidays.  Employers are encouraged to implement policies that actively discourage unhealthy behaviours such as leavism (working when on annual leave). It is also important that senior staff set a good example that employees feel comfortable mirroring.

The 2019 Flexible Working Survey is an anonymous survey of employees from 114 companies carried out by Wildgoose Team Activities.  The survey showed that 80% of those who are currently not allowed to work flexibly said having the ability to do so would be a very significant for them.  Nearly 40% of those surveyed who work flexibly have seen a noticeable improvement in their mental health while 43% who do not have the option of flexible working believe it would enable them to better manage their mental health.  As well as the potential for improvement in mental health, 60% of those not currently offered flexible working said they would be more productive if they could work flexibly as they would be able to work at times better suited to them.

Recently released figures from the UK Government have shown that a record number of disabled people - 36,240 last year - benefitted from Access to Work a UK Government run scheme aimed at breaking down workplace barriers for disabled people by paying for adjustments such as specialist equipment, support workers and travel to work.  The latest Access to Work statistics can be found  here. However, a poll carried out for Inclusive Boards has revealed that only 11% of business leaders surveyed said they would feel comfortable recruiting a disabled person to a senior role.  The main reason given was a fear that making adjustments would cost a lot of money, despite the fact that the average costs of reasonable adjustments is £75.  By ignoring those with disabilities employers run the risk of overlooking a significant pool of talent at a senior level (as well as risking being in breach of the Equality legislation depending on how employers handle applications from disabled employees for senior roles). 

As highlighted in the New Legislation, Guidance and Consultations section of this months Ebulletin, a consultation has been published looking at new legislation to tackle the problem of ill health related job loss.  The proposals include modifying SSP and giving employees who are not covered by the Equality Act 2010 the right to request modifications to their workplaces.


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