Research by Utopia investigates mental health in the workplace - Business Leader News

Research by Utopia investigates mental health in the workplace

A recent study by Utopia of over 3000 UK workers from a cross section of industries shows that most are struggling with their mental health at work, and say their employers aren’t doing enough to support them.

Whilst it’s not a surprise that 51% of respondents cite COVID as a top issue negatively affecting their mental health, nearly as many cite the current cost of living crisis to be impacting at almost the same rate. A staggering 49%. It’s evidence that people need just as much support at this time, if not more, than they did during 2020.

Utopia’s study finds most workplaces are ill-prepared to support workers. A situation that is fuelling resignations, despite economic uncertainty, and is drastically disproportionately affecting workers who are women, parents, disabled, racially minoritised and LGBTQIA+.

Workplaces are ill-prepared to support employees through this crisis.

It’s been found that presenteeism costs the UK economy an estimated £15.1bn every year. That’s double the cost of absenteeism. While one in three of those surveyed have missed a working day due to their mental health in the last month, one in two admitted working for one or more days in the last month despite a problem with their mental health.

A survey by Business in the Community and YouGov showed that only 24% of managers had received some form of training on mental health at work.

Utopia’s own research data shows that less than half of workers (48%) are satisfied with the way their workplace supports their mental health, two in three say their workplaces could take more action to support them, and in the absence of adequate workplace support, half those polled say they are using a coping mechanism to get by.

One in six do so in a way that may have damaging consequences. 16% reported using alcohol as a coping mechanism, while 14% reported spending more time working to avoid their issues.

Certain individuals are disproportionately suffering

Utopia’s research finds that women, parents, disabled people and transgender individuals have significantly worse mental health than peers outside these groups. LGBTQIA+ persons are 1.5x less satisfied with the way that their workplace handles mental health than their heterosexual peers. Also, racially minoritized workers are most likely to say that workplace mental health initiatives would improve their mental health.

Transparency about sick leave is necessary for teams to function at their best. They found that the least likely to be comfortable talking to their boss about their mental health are racially minoritized individuals being 29% less likely, working-class individuals being 28% less likely, and women being 24% less likely. These results are when compared respectively with individuals who identify as white, middle-class, and men.

This is all fuelling underperformance and the ‘Great Resignation’

Low wellbeing at work is contributing to avoidable problems for companies.

Utopia’s study shows two in five workers have considered leaving their job since 2020 as a result of their mental health and the workplace culture. This figure rises to more than half of disabled and LGBTQIA+ workers. Of the full sample, one in seven actually went on to quit their job due to mental health issues.

Transgender people were four times more likely to quit because of the relationship between their mental health and the workplace culture than their cisgender peers. For people with a mental health diagnosis, the number is more than three times more likely than those without a diagnosis.

Emma Mainoo Partner and Head of Healthy Practice at Utopia, comments: “This report highlights a need for systemic, long term culture change in organisations and this starts at the top. If we see good mental health as something that is additional to the people / I&D strategy, where all interventions are simply tactical, we risk simply ‘patching people up’ so that they might continue to exist, or survive in toxic cultures…until they don’t.

“Without long-term investment into tackling the findings of this study, not only are our people unduly suffering, but it’s having negative effects on workplace retention, performance and ultimately, profitability”.