Employers are being urged to do more to help the well-being of staff as stark new research shows nearly half of referrals to occupational health are for mental health reasons.
A study carried out by Laya Healthcare has revealed that improved productivity in the workplace comes at a price, with mental health, morale and motivation all declining in the past year.
One in three people aged between 18 and 34 are more likely to move to an employer that provides mental health resources, while 45pc of those surveyed are looking to change jobs in the next 12 months.
The research found that 46pc of referrals to occupational health are currently for mental health reasons, while 48pc of employees reported feeling lonely and isolated in the past year.
The mental health of 54pc of employees has been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with nearly a quarter experiencing sustained levels of anxiety.
Since Laya carried out similar research in September last year, overall mental well-being has decreased by 19pc, morale at work by 23pc and motivation by 17pc.
It comes as employers have reported increased productivity of 28pc this year.
Three in five employers say the stigma about mental health has not been broken in the workplace. While just over 40pc of employees share this view, in the manufacturing industries, three in five employees say they have not sought help for anxiety or mental health issues.
Sinéad Proos, head of health and well-being at Laya, said: “Supporting the mental well-being of employees can no longer be a ‘nice to do’.
“Supporting the mental well-being of employees is essential to building a healthy and sustainable workforce that is able to support businesss growth ambitions.”
Chartered psychologist Dr Sarah O’Neill said organisations still need to overcome the stigma attached to mental health issues.
“It is a barrier for many in seeking help. In addition to providing mental well-being support services, the existence of the benefits provided needs to be communicated to employees. Employees need and expect mentally healthy workplaces.”
Professor John Gallagher, a specialist in occupational medicine, described the research findings as “stark”.
“It is clear that employers need to do more to intervene at the very earliest signs of a mental health issues, to offer support that can help a person to get back on track and reduce further deterioration of their mental health,” Prof Gallagher said.
“Companies need to have a mental health strategy that focuses on resources and breaking the stigma of mental health which remains a barrier for many to seek help.”