One in six UK employees is concerned that raising mental health concerns with their company could put them at risk of losing their jobs, according to a new report on employee mental health and remote work.
Across the UK, 86% believe that their workplace is not a safe place for workers to be open about mental health.
In the last 12 months, the mental health of two out of three employees has deteriorated over the previous year. As remote and hybrid work environments continue to be adopted by more businesses in the UK, evidence suggests that companies have struggled to adapt their mental health support processes. One in three employees feel less able to express mental health concerns during a remote meeting, often without notice.
Employee Mental Health and Remote Work Report – conducted by the virtual event and private team building company Wildgoose – asked employees at 129 different UK companies if their mental health at work had improved or deteriorated over the past year. It also asked if these employees felt comfortable raising any mental health concerns with their employers and what they believed would happen if they did.
Only one in eight companies in the UK does not have a mechanism for reporting mental health concerns to remote workers. This is most common in SMEs, where the number has almost doubled to one in five where there is no process.
What do employees want from their company?
Deterioration of Employee Mental Health With a growing concern, the most desired change by employees is to offer companies more regular private meetings and better training for managers to detect signs of poor mental health (36%).
One-third of respondents said they would like to see a process policy reporting mental health concerns, which is not currently offered, assuring job security after reporting.
Commenting on the results, Wildgoose managing director Johnny Edser said: “As remote and hybrid work practices become more widespread, companies need to start working harder to ensure that employees are still receiving the same level of mental health support. With you, the symptoms of poor mental health can be very difficult to detect.
“For this reason, it is essential that employers communicate with their employees to find out how they want support. Perhaps they will appreciate more regular work stress reviews, weekly face-to-face meetings or even better mental health policy making. The most important aspect is that employees feel comfortable and safe to discuss any concerns.
“At Wildgoose, we offer both personal and virtual team building experiences, helping companies foster peer relationships and improve employee well-being.”
Kristen Keane, co-founder and owner of Kluwer HR, commented on the results: Working from a distance means that we don’t see our coworkers in the flesh every day, showing those subtle signs when no one is dealing makes it even harder to read.
“Unfortunately, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health issues and a lack of education in this area. To help improve employee well-being in the workplace, both managers and the entire workforce should be trained so that everyone can recognize and understand mental health issues.” Having a 1: 1 meeting with them is a great way to encourage people to discuss their issues safely. “