"Blue Monday" Highlights a Need for Employers to Tackle Mental Health Issues at Work
- Date: Friday 19th January 2018
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Monday 15th January 2018 was billed as the “most depressing day of the year.” Each year a Monday in January suffers the same fate as debt, gloomy weather and the post-Christmas blues contribute to the low mood of the nation. It may not be a reality, but the concept of Blue Monday serves to remind employers to tackle mental health issues and employee absence more generally.
An increase in absenteeism is frequently noted in the opening weeks of the New Year, providing a timely opportunity for employers to consider why people are taking time off sick and providing support where needed. The return for employers is an improvement in productivity, reduction in absences and monetary savings in the long term.
The financial and human cost of absence the UK economy, especially mental health related absence, is enormous, estimated at £18 billion in lost productivity. Research in 2017 showed that 3 out of 5 (60%) employees had experienced mental health issues in the last year and 31% of employees have been formally diagnosed with a mental health issue.
- Tackle the root cause of the absence
- Record absence occasions and reasons (confidentially and securely)
- Monitor absence trends, especially around weekends and bank holidays
- Inform employees that absence is being recorded and monitored (this alone can reduce absence)
- Conduct return to work interviews and look for signs of mental health issues
- Introduce an attendance management policy
- Address absence issues promptly
- Listen to an employee who may be experiencing an emotional crisis, empathise with their situation and help them to find their own solutions to personal issues
- Offer support to those with mental health related absence and jointly identify short and long term reasonable adjustments
- Take disciplinary action where absence is unacceptable
Source: Gavin Parrott, SSG