Hello Mr Businessperson! What if I told you that I could reduce your sick leave by 20%? If we worked really hard maybe even 45% or even 55%?
15.4 million days were lost in the UK during 2017 to 2018 due to mental health alone. That makes up 57% of all work sick leave. Almost half (44%) of those 15.4 million days were due to workload. This data is compiled yearly by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive but is isn’t unique to the UK.
For decades the World Health Organisation has been monitoring death rates and the global trend is terrifying. Suicide is the biggest killer of men from their teenage formative years right into their 50s. Whilst the UK male suicide rate was at its lowest in 2017 (since 1981 when the UK’s Office for National Statistics started) it is still the biggest killer of men from their teens to the time they should get their bus pass. In 2017, 5,821 people ended their own lives. 4,382 (75.3%) of those were male.
The worst part? This isn’t news. It has been this way for decades. While we have all be shocked into action and the fight against medical issues like AIDS, TB and cancer, men have been killing themselves rather than live in a devolved country. A large proportion of this has a relation to work and as we discovered above, 44% is workload itself.
Since the recession of 2009, budgets in all businesses have been tightened. Sometimes processes simplified or corners cut. There are occasions where this isn’t a bad thing but sometimes removing unique services and products alienates your customers and your own staff. Making people redundant and then being surprise there is not enough people to handle your sales or service calls is embarrassing, farcical, damaging and, worryingly, not uncommon. Your customers big and small no longer regard you as a market leader – suddenly your higher prices are no longer ‘worth it’ because your service is now no better than the cheaper competitor. They think they have achieved the savings the business needs but it’s self-destructive and I’ve seen it first hand.
The businesses that have flourished in the last ten years are the ones who took a small pair of pruning shears to the ‘bush’ of their processes, services and staff and not the businesses who took a machete.
Businesses who support their staff see better sales and reliability. Happy staff do more for the business, in and out of work.
Mind, a leading mental health charity in the UK, run their own Workplace Index. Their report from 2017 showed that only 54% of staff, in an array of industries, felt their manager support their wellbeing and mental health.
Simple solutions such as offering occasional one-2-ones help focus your staff and support them. It also allows managements to see where the real issues are – the issues that actually affect your customers and your profits. Mind encourage companies to sign up to their pledge and join the battle. Big industry leaders such as Heineken and JaguarLandRover have been on board for years. Suicide is preventable. A short conversation, an occasional check-in with someone who may be struggling to cope can go a long way, and might even help save a life.
In 2015, I suffered workplace discrimination. I tried to end my own life. It has taken years to recover. It was embarrassing for the management and the brand involved as well as costly due to the legal action that followed. If you want talented staff doing their best and the sales and profits that match, you have to offer the right service to your staff. The alternative is either the staff burnout, which in my example is costly, or the staff go to your competitors.
It’s finally business savvy to care about the wellbeing of your staff.
Read more of my story on my website: www.MattStreuli.uk
For Further Support (in the UK):
•Mind, the mental health charity, provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. They won't give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets both support and respect. www.mind.org.uk I'm proud to be a member and Media Volunteer.
•Mind has a confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 (lines open 9am - 6pm, Monday – Friday)
•In a crisis: Samaritans are open 24/7. Call free from any phone on 116 123