According to statistics that have been published by the HSE, there were 595,000 cases of work-related anxiety, depression, or stress in the 2017/18 period. This marked a prevalent rate of 1,800 affected individuals per 100,000 workers. As a result, 15.4 million working days have been lost due to mental health related conditions. This equates to 25.8 days lost per case. These statistics highlight how essential it is for Employers to allocate specific focus to mental wellbeing in the workplace. After all, employee wellbeing has a massive impact on performance and productivity levels, with mental wellbeing being one of the main aspects of wellbeing. With this in mind, referring to the New Code of Practice for Employers to Improve Health and Wellbeing for Staff that has been introduced by the BSI will serve as a strong foundation for any Employer looking to improve their wellbeing policies.

Current Statistics Regarding Employee Absence and Illness Rates

Before elaborating on the details of the new Code, it is important to have a clear understanding of the impact employee mental health issues are having on absence rates with specific survey points being used as supporting evidence.

A study conducted by the CIPD has actually taken a look at ‘presenteeism’ – this is when people come into work when they are not well. A study has shown that the rates of presenteeism have more than tripled since 2010.

The most recent study, taken in 2018, interviewed more than 1,000 people, with 86% stating that they had seen presenteeism in their business within the past year. This represents an increase from just 26% in 2010, to 72% in 2016, now reaching an all-time high in 2018. The study also found that another growing problem is ‘leaveism’ – this can occur when people utilise their annual leave to work. Around 69% of respondents have stated that this has happened at their place of work in the last year. While these figures may be shocking and disturbing, what is even more shocking is that only 27% of those that have experienced leaveism have said that their business is taking proactive steps to prevent this issue. Moreover, only 25% of those that have experienced presenteeism have noticed their company owner take steps to stop it.

What does the BSI’s New Code of Practice recommend?

The BSI, Business Standards Company, has launched a new Code of Practice that has been designed to assist with tackling the crisis in employee wellbeing and mental health. At present, businesses are spending around £9 billion per annum on sick pay and the costs associated with it.

The Code of Practice, PAS 3002, supplies employers with advice regarding establishing, promoting, maintaining, and reviewing the health and wellbeing of their workforce. It assesses how health and wellbeing should be integrated into the workplace and how leaders can make sure that related services are accessible for their employees.

This Code was developed alongside several different organisations, including Public Health England, Nestle, Hitachi, and the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD). Working together, these bodies developed five key principles that form the basis of the approach they recommend. These five principles are:

  1. Capitalise on inclusivity and diversity as an organisational strength
  2. Proactively support the psychological and physical wellbeing and health of employees
  3. Foster a workplace culture that provides an organisational culture whereby development and learning are encouraged, a communicative and collaborative management style, as well as ethical and strong relationships
  4. Make sure that jobs are designed so that they provide work that is meaningful
  5. Support good people management practices and policies

It is important to note that this Code of Practice was established using evidence-based material. The document acts as a benchmark so that businesses, irrespective of their sector, size, or jurisdiction, can improve the health and wellbeing of their workforce.

Benefits of Adhering to the BSI’s New Code

By implementing this new Code of Practice, an Employer will be proactively encouraging and supporting employee wellbeing in their workplace, and of course, there are countless benefits that are associated with this. Fostering employee wellbeing brings about positive results for everyone within a workplace, from colleagues, to management, to a business’ bottom line.

Creating a positive workplace environment whereby employees feel more comfortable in terms of speaking up and seeking the help that they need will prevent smaller issues from spiralling out of control. In doing so, there will be a noticeable reduction in absenteeism levels, which will save business costs whilst boosting productivity. With a more inclusive and transparent workplace comes more open lines of dialogue, consequently meaning employees feel less pressure to turn up to work despite feeling unwell and not performing to their optimum productivity levels. After all, if an employee is not in the right frame of mind to work as they normally would, this can have a negative impact on performance. Let’s outline some of the key benefits below…

  • Build and help sustain high employee morale
  • Improve recruitment and retention
  • Decrease absenteeism and presenteeism
  • Boost productivity
  • Reduce prominent health risks
  • Increase the chance of an employee getting help
  • Improve employee health behaviours

From this list alone it becomes apparent that all of the associated benefits are items which any employer would love to achieve, no matter the size of the business, the nature of the work carried out, or the location of where the workplace is situated.

Challenges which may be faced by when looking to Implement the New Code

While the benefits associated with this new Code of Practice are evident, introducing it will not be without its challenges. After all, any shift in terms of management or workplace culture is difficult to initially implement and manage. Getting people to change the way that they act and/or think is not going to be easy. It takes passion and commitment. When getting people to follow the BSI’s guidelines, it needs to be made clear how conforming to this Code of Practice will be beneficial to everyone involved. Once people understand this, they will be more willing to get on board and be more receptive to any changes which are being introduced.

When looking at the statistics that have been provided in this article, there is no denying that more needs to be done across the UK to prevent workplace mental wellbeing issues. The BSI code provides employers with a great framework for making positive changes. Implementing it is not without its challenges. However, as you can see, the benefits are extensive and can help set up a business for long-term success.