NICE issues ‘win-win' advice to employers
An estimated 13.7 million working days are lost each year due to stress, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, at a cost to UK employers of around £28.3 billion per year.
Better management of employees' mental wellbeing could reduce this bill substantially. For example, an employer with 1000 employees could save up to £250,000 per year, according to ‘Promoting mental wellbeing through productive and healthy working conditions: guidance for employers'.
The NICE guidance, which was published at the beginning of November, advises employers to introduce a range of fairly simple measures including improved line management and flexible working.
Monitoring general staff wellbeing - and ensuring appropriate support is available - is also important. This could be achieved by introducing regular staff audits, with support coming from line managers or occupational health services - or both.
While recognising that work pressures can motivate people and enhance their performance, the guidance highlights the need to ensure the demands do not exceed their ability to cope.
Professor Mike Kelly, NICE's Public Health Excellence Centre Director, explains: “The benefits of promoting mental wellbeing within the workplace are clear. The new NICE guidance explains how employers can make simple changes, including the prevention and early identification of problems.
“The financial incentives for employers to adopt these approaches are significant. The guidance therefore represents a ‘win-win' for employers and their employees and should be seen as important advice to help organizations - irrespective of their size or sector.”
A version of the guidance tailored to meet the specific needs of small businesses is due to be published towards the end of November.
We are also planning to help employers put our advice into practice by producing “A business case for action” and other tools to help estimate the local costs of mental health problems - and the potential benefits and savings that could be made.
For details go to www.nice.org.uk/PH22
This is the fourth piece of NICE guidance aimed at improving the health of the nation's workforce. The others are:
- ‘Workplace interventions to promote smoking cessation' (NICE public health guidance 5)
- ‘Promoting physical activity in the workplace' (NICE public health guidance 13)
- ‘Management of long-term sickness and incapacity for work' (NICE public health guidance 19).
Issued: 23 November 2009
This page was last updated: 10 May 2010