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World Mental Health Day serves as an ever-important reminder that we must not let mental health fall by the wayside; and that supporting workforce mental health is a key aspect of organizational resilience. In today’s climate, a great deal is expected of employees. It is, therefore, the responsibility of organizations and businesses to equip their workforce with the right tools and support to face challenges successfully and with resilience.

To mark World Mental Health Day 2022, Continuity Central spoke to a number of people to explore some of the issues in this area…

In context

Hugh Scantlebury, CEO and Founder of Aqilla, reflects that many workers have had to overcome great adversity in recent times. “This time last year, we were talking about the toll that lockdowns were having on our individual and collective mental health. Thankfully, most of us are pretty much back to normal in that regard - seeing family, catching up with friends, and going on holiday. But inflation and rising energy costs are having an impact on people’s mental health”.

Dave Birchall, Chief People Officer at Node4, also shares his concerns on the cost of living crisis. “However optimistic we try to be, it is undeniable that we are all in for a tough winter – as the nights draw in, everyone is having to tighten their belts with costs rising at unprecedented rates. This can have a significant impact on mental health, with 40 percent of people reporting poorer mental health when their financial situation worsens”.

Beating burnout

On top of the cost-of-living crisis, many workers have to contend with the possibility of burnout. Joanna Leach, Chief People Officer at HelpSystems, expands on how it impacts the tech industry as, according to research, “as many as 51 percent of cyber security professionals have experienced extreme stress or burnout during the last 12 months. Employers need to provide the right environment and support to keep workers both physically and mentally healthy. Mental Health Day offers organizations an opportunity to reflect on whether they have the right initiatives in place to ensure their workers’ mental health is prioritised”.

It falls to the employer to have measures in place to ensure their staff feel capable and confident to take on the challenges which lie before them rather than becoming overworked and overwhelmed. “With teams often time-poor and overstretched, security leaders should look to automation to help free up teams from mundane manual tasks so they can focus on doing what they enjoy most - solving cyber security challenges”, advises Samantha Humphries, Head of Security Strategy EMEA at Exabeam.

She adds: “This will not only fortify security measures, but most importantly it will relieve some of the stress and burnout experienced by employees. By putting your employees first you can create an overall happier and more positive environment, while also improving retention and productivity”.

Acknowledging the importance of wellbeing

“Work is often cited as the biggest contributor to mental illness”, notes Jen Lawrence, Chief People Officer at Tax Systems. “With evidence suggesting that 12.7 percent of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions, it has never been more imperative for businesses to turn their attention to supporting employee mental health and wellbeing”.

Terry Storrar, Managing Director, Leaseweb UK, recognises a shift as “in recent years, the majority of workplaces have taken considerable steps towards looking out for their employees’ mental health. However, recent research indicates that in many cases there is still a shortfall in the type of support that employers provide – the Deloitte UK Mental Health Report 2022 found that one-third of people expected or would have liked more mental health support from their employer”.

Additionally, poor well-being doesn’t just come at a cost to the individual, it also impacts the overall business, as Terry Storrar, highlights. “Mental ill health costs UK employers around £56 billion per year, up 25 percent from 2019, this is a matter that we cannot afford to stand still on”.

Looking forward, we can all aim to improve those statistics and honour the theme for Mental Health Day which is 'make mental health for all a global priority”. Marco Fanizzi, SVP & GM at Commvault International expands on how this theme is central at Commvault: “Our continued message to our staff is to primarily think about yourself, your wellbeing and family. And then, help us take the business and drive sustainable growth”.

Moving forward and looking to the future

Commvault’s Fanizzi also explores how shifting workplace attitudes and culture can play a part: “Career paths are becoming less linear as people want new challenges and experiences to balance their more comfortable work life balance. As a result, our corporate values, the roles we offer, the rewards for doing those jobs and our working environments are changing for good”.

One of the big changes to working environments is the rise of hybrid working which Gillian Mahon, Chief People and Places Officer at Totalmobile, explores the benefits of. “This approach not only supports employees with multiple responsibilities – such as parents, grandparents, or carers – but it also promotes a better work/life balance for all employees”.

She summarises that “ultimately, workers who have the flexibility they desire are going to be happier at work, reducing their stress levels and improving their productivity overall – it’s a win-win scenario”.

This forward-thinking attitude when it comes to mental health is key to creating a better environment but also guaranteeing better staff retention as Richard Guy, County Sales Manager, Ergotron highlights. “73 percent of workers will choose their next role based on physical health and wellbeing support and flexible technology provision. Organizations should therefore ensure that they’re putting employee wellbeing front and centre”.

Essentially, when it comes to mental health, there are many factors that we have no control over whatsoever. However, focussing on what can be controlled is key. Employers need to empower their workers to be in the best position they can be in. This means offering hybrid working, an even workload distribution and access to wellbeing initiatives. By providing this support, employees are placed in the best position to go out and conquer the challenges they face with confidence and resilience, knowing they have the backing of their employer.

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