Last week, the BRC held a Roundtable with our partners at Aon to provide retailers with expert advice, tested strategies and practical tools to help retailers improve the mental health of their workforce, and the financial health of their business.

Mental health affects anyone and everyone. It is estimated that one in six British workers in the UK will experience mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and stress every year. According to a recent report by Mind, 48% of workers have experienced poor mental health in their current job and only half of those have talked to their employer about it.

The estimated annual cost of mental ill-health to UK employers is between £33 billion and £44 billion and within the Retail sector, the annual cost of poor mental health to employers is between £777 and £989 per person per year.

Defining Mental health

Individuals who struggle with their mental health can experience a spectrum of conditions including anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder and psychosis. It is important to mention that whilst many people can experience these conditions for months or years, sometimes people can have changeable experiences daily, or even hourly.

The workplace itself can negatively impact mental health through factors such as work-related stress (psychosocial risks) and can directly link to several other factors including financial safety, access to housing, relationships at work, job satisfaction and job security.

Businesses consequently should ensure they have steps in place to support their employees and the management of their mental health for before, during and after they experience any mental health concerns.

Quantifying the impact

The impact of positive mental health on employees can have a direct effect on the financial health of a business. Employees with a strong overall wellbeing are six times more likely to be engaged in their jobs and 32% more likely to stay with that company.

It is estimated that globally 12 billion working days could be lost each year between now and 2030 due to anxiety and depression. Presenteeism, when physical or mental conditions prevent an employee from being fully productive at work, is also a growing concern as it accounts for 1.5x more losses in productivity than absences.

Numbers of individuals suffering from mental health conditions are set to get worse, and by 2030, depression is set to be the world’s most common illness.

So, what can employers do to improve the mental health of their employees and the financial health of their business?


Rising to the challenge and frameworks of success

One of the key ways to effectively manage employee mental health is to look at their wellbeing as a whole. Aon identifies five pillars of wellbeing: Financial, Social, Career, Emotional and Physical, which are the foundations to supporting robust employee wellbeing and work with clients to implement the six Thriving at Work core standards – sensible strategies for employers to adopt:

  • Producing and implementing a mental health plan, highlighting support to all employees.
  • Develop mental health awareness through the promotion of tools, information and support.
  • Encouraging peer to peer support and open conversations about mental health throughout the organisation.
  • Providing good working conditions, ensuring employees have a healthy work-life balance and access to opportunities.
  • Training management to ensure regular conversations are being had with employees.
  • Routinely monitoring employee health and any concerns raised.

Further information and support

Don't forget, you can also access further information, support and guidance on HR related issues through our HR Community

Aon also has a wealth of helpful information and resources to help you effectively support the wellbeing of your employees: Visit their mental wellbeing page here.