Did you know that 37% of work-related ill-health cases in the UK are mental health related, costing an average of £1,035 per employee, per year?

If there was ever a reason for organisations to review their working environment in terms of the impact it has on employees mental health and therefore their performance, this has got to be up there.

But why should organisations be looking to promote positive mental health at work?

Well, aside from the statistic above, it is also worth noting that whilst the overall rate of sickness absence has fallen by 15-20% since 2009, absence due to mental ill-health has risen by around 5%.  In addition to this, whilst the percentage of days off due to all types of illness is lower than a decade ago, presenteeism (the term used to describe the lost productivity that occurs when employees turn up at work when they are ill and perform below par) is increasing year on year.  

Concerning stats I’m sure you’d agree but what does this actually mean for businesses?


The risks and effects of poor employee mental health within organisations is becoming increasingly well documented.

These risks include:


The costs associated with having employees on frequent or long term sick leave as well as the extra expense of filling long term gaps.


The loss of productivity associated with employees turning up at work when they are unwell and failing to contribute their best.

Workforce Strain

The knock-on effect on other members of the team of colleague being on long-term sick leave which puts their mental health at risk, perhaps resulting in additional sickness absence and/or presenteeism.

Employee Turnover  

The disruption and costs (recruitment and training) associated with an employee feeling unable to cope and therefore unable to continue working for the organisation due to mental ill-health.

Limited Growth

The loss of diversity and skills throughout the organisation due to a culture of concealment and presenteeism which impedes growth.

Legal Risk 

The potential for resignation and subsequent unfair dismissal claims from employees who are able to demonstrate a breach by the organisation of their own policies and processes (that enable them to comply with both health and safety and disability law) and the impact on productivity, morale and financial stability.


The list of risks to an organisation from not supporting employees mental health is a long one, however, the good news is that there are considerable benefits to organisations that promote a culture of well-being in the workplace.

These benefits include:

  • Improved employee morale
  • Better people retention
  • Improved creativity, innovation and productivity and decreased presenteeism
  • Positive PR and better company reputation, resulting in increased desirability for talented people
  • Higher customer acquisition and retention
  • Increased profits
  • Fewer days lost to absenteeism
  • Lower staff turnover
  • Reduced recruitment and training costs
  • Reduced conflict and other people issues
  • Reduced likelihood of costly legal claims


There are plenty of simple, and cost effective, steps that employers can take to improve the culture of positive mental well-being within their organisation. 

The first step however is to assess the current situation by looking at your working environment in six key areas.  These are referred to by the HSE as the six areas of ‘work design’:


The extent to which people can cope with the demands of their work.

If people have multiple groups to deliver to or unachieveable deadlines, feel pressured to work long hours or to work very fast and/or intensively for long periods of time, without ample breaks,
they are more likely to experience mental health issues.


The extent to which people are free from unacceptable behaviour/conflict in the workplace.

If people feel that there is friction or anger between colleagues or that work relationships are strained, or that they are subject to personal harassment in the form on unkind words or behaviour, or even bullying, they are more likely to experience mental health issues.


The level of say people have in the way they do their work.

If people don’t feel that they have a choice in deciding what they do how and when they do it at work, the pace in which they work, or when they take a break, they are more likely to experience mental health issues.


The level to which people understand their role and don’t feel they have conflicting roles.

If people don’t feel that they are clear about the goals and objectives for their department, what their duties and responsibilities are, what is expected of them and how their work fits into the overall aim of the organisation, they are more likely to experience mental health issues.


The information, encouragement and resources provided to enable people to do their work.

If people don’t feel they receive the respect they deserve from colleagues, are encouraged by or given feedback from their manager or that they can talk to their manager and colleagues about or rely on them to help them out with a work-related problem, they are more likely to experience mental health issues.


How change is both managed an communicated.

If people don’t feel that they are consulted about or given sufficient opportunities to ask questions about change at work and/or are unclear about how changes will work out in practice, they are more likely to experience mental health issues.

Take our Mental Health At Work Quiz

To support organisations with this process we have developed a short quiz to walk employers through these six areas of ‘work design’ highlighting the primary sources of stress at work. 

Is your organisation doing enough to promote positive mental health at work?

Take our QUIZ and find out!

If you would like to discuss the findings of the quiz with one of our team and find out about possible next steps, please get in touch

To Promote Positive Mental Health At Work?

Find out by taking our quick Mental Health At Work Quiz

This short quiz will take you through the six areas of ‘work design’ that highlight the primary sources of stress at work that, when not managed well, are associated with poor mental health and can lead to increased absenteeism and presenteeism, resulting in reduced creativity, productivity and results.

Take The
Mental Health
At Work Quiz

If you’d like to discuss how we can support your organisation and your people,