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Many Managers Place Company Interests Above Well-Being

Woman looking out conference room windowA large-scale study of employees in the United Kingdom found 77% have experienced mental health issues in their lifetime. Of those, 62% acknowledged their source of employment as a contributing factor to their symptoms. Based on these numbers, experts say there is a crisis involving employee mental health stemming from the impact of workplace issues.

Poor employee mental health often has a negative impact on businesses in all parts of the world. According to Mental Health America, estimates of U.S. economic losses attributed to mental health issues such as depression surpass $51 billion, and few strategies are in place to address the issue. The study found a noticeable lack of employer responsiveness and awareness of mental health issues in the workplace. Only 22% of managers reported being trained to address employee mental health concerns. The study’s authors say adjustments will need to be made to align employer practices with the promotion of good worker mental health.

Mental Health at Work Report 2016

This investigation, performed by the charity Business in the Community (BITC) with assistance from the crowdsourcing site YouGov, included more than 3,000 workers from across the UK. Additional information was taken from a parallel survey of the general public conducted by BITC that gathered more than 16,000 responses. All data was collected online between May and July 2016. Topics centered on mental health and overall well-being in the workplace, along with the relative perspectives of managers.

It is well established that happy and healthy workers produce the best outcomes for any operation. Despite that fact, 63% of managers reported feeling an obligation to act in the interests of their company over the cost of employee well-being. The researchers say competent business practices would eliminate this disparity by ensuring company goals and worker mental health are in harmony.

Ways to Promote Worker Mental Health

A large meta-analysis was recently released that demonstrates the importance of building a sense of organizational belonging to promote good employee health and to reduce psychological burnout. The analysis included 58 studies with a total of more than 19,000 participants from across the world. Self-identification with their employing companies was associated with positive gains in both psychological and physical health measures. The strongest effects were observed in the building of mental well-being. Identifying with a company or social group may give employees a sense of “we” that can make them feel as if their environment is supportive and understanding.

Other research suggests stigma and discrimination are still largely responsible for the lack of conversation around mental health in the workplace. The UK study’s authors say employers and employees should openly discuss topics concerning mental health, as the culture of silence around workplace mental health can lead to negative outcomes for businesses, including increased absenteeism and reduced productivity.


  1. Depression in the workplace. (n.d.). Mental Health America. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression-workplace
  2. Health determined by social relationships at work. (2016, October 3). ScienceDaily. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161003214129.htm
  3. Robinson, A. (2016, October 4). The culture of silence around mental health in the workplace must end. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/oct/04/mental-health-uk-business-employees-management-wellbeing-marks-spencer-mind
  4. Steffens, N. K., Haslam, S. A., Schuh, S. C., Jetten, J., & van Dick, R. (2016). A meta-analytic review of social identification and health in organizational contexts. Personality and Social Psychology Review. doi:10.1177/1088868316656701

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  • Suzie

    October 13th, 2016 at 4:22 PM

    No matter how good a workplace is in taking responsibility for the mental health of its workers, my own experience as a personal development educator and author is that no management procedure or program takes the place of individuals at every level of an organisation being able to take responsibility for recognising and minimising their internally generated stress triggers.
    Self-awareness and self-compassion is also the foundation for the implementation of work practices that best suit individual needs. Managers who are not self-aware are usually self-denying and this lack of awareness is reflected in their unquestioning willingness to put company policies and goals before any consideration of the impact that these might have on their own well-being as well as that of those they manage.

  • Mark

    October 14th, 2016 at 8:30 AM

    Well you do often have a lot of responsibility when you are a manager and yes there are going to be times when work responsibilities will overshadow the things that you have going on in your persona l life. It is not fun, but if this is a job that you have willingly undertaken this is something that you have to know that yes in some ways you have signed up for.

  • julianna

    October 15th, 2016 at 1:19 PM

    The problem with this though is that you may move the company ahead as a result of all of that hard work but then at what cost to you both physically and to your family? There is more to life than professional development and advancement and those who get too caught up in that work rat race often fail to see the harm that they are doing to themselves.

  • Hildy

    October 18th, 2016 at 3:34 PM

    We have all been pretty guilty of burying our heads in the sand.
    It feels easier to look away and avoid the problems than it is to help treat it, even though in the end this is helping no one

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