FTSE leadership failing to act on mental health, report finds

Just 11 of the UK’s top 100 businesses are disclosing key performance indicators relating to the mental health of their staff

Credit: Edwin Tan/Getty Images

There is a disparity between the number of top UK employers that have identified mental health as a workplace concern and how many are making it a board-level priority, a report has found.

Analysis of company reports from FTSE 100 companies, conducted by CCLA, found the vast majority (93 per cent) said they regarded mental health as an important business issue.

However, just 34 of the UK’s top 100 listed firms published objectives or targets around workplace mental health, which the report said suggested the majority had not yet translated policy commitments into actions.

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And only 11 out of the 100 firms disclosed any key performance indicators related to mental health, the report said.

Elizabeth Sheldon, chief executive of CCLA, said it was only by “thinking and acting systemically” that employers could hope to meet the major sustainability challenges they faced. “We consider corporate mental health to be one such challenge,” she said.

“Our theory is that being able to understand and compare corporate practice on mental health will inform and accelerate the progress that is needed to enable companies, investors and, above all, people to thrive,” said Sheldon.

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There were some positive findings in CCLA’s data. Over three-quarters (76 per cent) of FTSE 100 companies had developed initiatives to raise awareness of mental health in the workplace, and 91 per cent reported they provide employees with access to mental health services.

The report identified that the return on investment from workplace mental health interventions was positive, with firms benefiting by the tune of £5.30 for every £1 put into mental health – a 430 per cent return.

However, Kate Hesk, chief people officer and coaching lead at Cognomie, said employers were still finding it hard to measure return on investment on employee wellbeing strategies. “Mental health related absences cost UK business £17bn during the pandemic, the ‘great resignation’ upended the employer value proposition and we’ve also realigned our relationship to work itself,” she said.

Lucy Shoolbred, director and co-founder of Working Mindset, added that employers needed to create environments where people can speak out. “It's about how we increase this level of psychological safety, how we create this workspace and this culture where people feel safe enough to talk about it, because they're not worried that they can be seen as weak,” she said.

Shoolbred also cautioned that the issues of workplace mental health were often falling into the remit of HR professionals, who themselves were exhausted and burned out. “It's about how we can support our HR colleagues to be able to then support their people,” Shoolbred said.