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Mental health awareness has risen enormously in recent years. Celebrities from athlete Michael Phelps to Prince Harry and pop star Lady Gaga have spoken publicly about their mental health struggles and the stigma surrounding them.
But business has been slow to react—particularly smaller ones. Our research with businesses in Britain's Midlands region shows that the majority of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) struggle to support their staff as they battle various mental health issues. As well as raising health concerns, this has a huge impact on the economy.
SMEs - UK - Percent - Businesses - People
There are 5.7m SMEs in the UK (accounting for 99 percent of all businesses) and they employ close to 16m people, contributing 20 percent to UK GDP. Meanwhile, mental health issues, including stress, depression and anxiety, are thought to be responsible for 91m lost working days each year in the UK, costing the economy £30 billion. About 10 percent of this was due to staff replacement costs, 30 percent down to people being off sick (absenteeism) and 60 percent of the cost due to reduced productivity at work (presenteeism).
From an economic perspective, workplace mental health issues lead to higher unemployment rates and diminished productivity. With the UK's productivity lagging behind its peers in the G7 of advanced economies, and given the contribution of SMEs in the economy, working out how to alleviate mental health problems is crucial.
OECD - Report - SMEs - Health - Well-being
According to a recent OECD report, SMEs are yet to prioritise mental health and well-being due to a lack of awareness about the business benefits and they lack information around the best ways to help their staff. Compared to larger companies, small businesses suffers from a number of constraints including day-to-day struggles just to survive, ad-hoc business processes, non-existent human resources departments and poor people management, higher turnover of employees and a lack of agility.
Many SMEs are competing...
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