One in six UK employees feel worried that raising mental health concerns with their company could put them at risk of losing their job, a new report into employee mental health and remote working has found.
Throughout the UK, 86% believe that their workplace is not a safe space for employees to be open about mental health.
Over the last 12 months, two in three employees have experienced worse mental health at work, compared to the previous year. As remote and hybrid working environments continue to be adopted by more UK businesses, evidence suggests that companies have struggled to adapt their mental health support processes. One in three employees feel less able to raise mental health concerns during remote meetings, often causing any issues to go unnoticed.
The Employee Mental Health and Remote Working report – conducted by virtual events and in-person team building company Wildgoose – asked employees from 129 different UK companies whether their mental health at work had improved or worsened over the past year. It also asked whether these employees felt comfortable raising any mental health concerns with their employers and what they believed would happen if they did.
Just over one in eight companies in the UK don’t have a process in place for remote workers to report mental health concerns. This is most prevalent in SMEs, where this figure nearly doubled to one in five not having a process in place.
What do employees want from their companies?
With worsening employee mental health a growing concern, the change most desired by employees is for companies to offer more regular in-person meetings and for managers to receive better training on identifying signs of poor mental health (36%).
Just under a third of respondents state they would like to see a process policy of reporting mental health concerns, which is not currently offered, followed by assurances of job security after reporting.
Commenting on the findings, Wildgoose managing director Jonny Edser said: “As remote and hybrid working practices become more widespread, companies need to start doing more to ensure that employees are still receiving the same levels of mental health support. With less regular in-person meetings and casual catch-ups in the office, it can be much harder to spot the signs of poor mental health.
“For this reason, it’s essential that employers communicate with their staff, finding out how they would like to be supported. Perhaps they’d appreciate more regular workload reviews, weekly face-to-face meetings, or even the creation of better mental health policies. The most important aspect is that employees feel comfortable and safe to discuss any concerns.
“At Wildgoose, we continue to offer both in-person and virtual team building experiences, helping companies to encourage colleague relationships and improve employee wellbeing .”
Kristen Keen, founder and owner of Cluer HR, comments on the findings: “Whilst working from home comes with many advantages, there is no doubt that for some people this isn’t the case. Working remotely has meant that we haven’t been able to see our colleagues in the flesh on a daily basis, making it much harder to read those subtle signs shown when someone isn’t coping.
“Unfortunately, there is still a stigma that surrounds mental health issues and a lack of education on the subject. To help improve employee wellbeing at work, both managers and the entire workforce should receive training, so that everyone can recognise and understand mental health issues. Plus, having 1:1 meetings with employees is a great way to encourage people to safely discuss any problems they are having.”