#MSB18: The connection between productivity and employee wellbeing

27 June 2018 | By Alissa Dhaliwal

When 1 in 4 people in the UK face a mental health problem, employers need to understand what support they can offer

The CBI’s MSB Business Insight Conference focused on productivity and the role people play in improving it was a central part of the discussions.

As 1 in 4 people in the UK face a mental health problem, a breakout session, hosted by Lloyds Banking Group, looked to understand how the workplace can support employee health and wellbeing – and how that ultimately drives productivity.

Chaired by Matthew Percival, Head of Employment at the CBI, Rebecca Priestly, People Director at Lloyds Banking Group and Gillian Connor, Head of Policy Partnerships, Mental Health UK were keen to highlight practical tools businesses can adopt to help.

Here are five key takeaways:

  1. “Statistics speak for themselves, employers spend £42bn a year on ill health. It makes commercial sense to invest” – As it’s clear just how much poor health can cost the economy, Priestly suggested that the business case for making progress on this issue is a no-brainer.
  2. “It’s an attractive proposition to work for an organisation which takes wellbeing of staff seriously” – Businesses shouldn’t just be motivated by the economic arguments, it affects recruitment too, said Connor. This is particularly the case for younger workers, who care about the values held by their prospective employer.
  3. “We need senior role models who are prepared to talk about their experiences with mental health”– Priestly touched upon the work of Lloyds Banking Group Chief Executive António Horta Osório, in starting an open and honest conversation about mental health in the workplace. “It’s not about creating an environment where people come and disclose everything that’s going on in their private life, but there should be an environment where people feel confident to discuss issues with their line manager or colleagues and feel safe knowing this isn’t career limiting,” she explained.
  4. “Line managers feel nervous and don’t know how to start the conversation” – The panel acknowledged that it’s difficult for line managers to approach the conversation of mental health with staff. Connor highlighted that sometimes asking “how are you?” just isn’t enough. But for line managers to be able to support staff they need to have the right tools. Lloyds have an eLearning course for managers which helps start this conversation.
  5. 'Measuring outcomes can be challenging' – Percival emphasised that it is important that businesses provide health and wellbeing support that staff will engage in and that meets their needs. Although this can be difficult to evaluate, Priestly suggested a good starting point could be collecting data on improvements via staff surveys, colleague engagement levels and number of mental health disclosures.

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