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  • HelenMc

Is employee engagement now mental health and safety?

Savvy Execs have always seen the value of having an engaged workforce. There’s plenty of evidence of how having engaged employees equals profit and productivity.

However, now we're in a time of extreme change because of the consequences of Covid, should we look at engagement through a lens of 'mental health and safety’?

The cost of poor mental health

A report in 2020 (pre Covid) by Deliotte and Mind shows the costs of poor mental health to UK employers have increased by 16% in two years, now costing up to £45 billion a year.

To put that into real terms, they estimated annual costs (per employee) of poor mental health amounts to a weighted average of 5.8% of wages across all age groups.

The report also calls out that these costs may actually be worse – with many employees avoiding admitting mental health issues at work. It’s also hard to evaluate the cost of the impact on others as a result of co-workers being underproductive or away from work.

The new resilience levels

One result of the pandemic is more people are experiencing difficulties than ever before. It’s like a cliff shoreline has eroded and people who were previously miles ‘inland’ are now on the edge.

Even if these situations are fleeting rather than consistent, it’s fair to say the pressures of personal health, family health, homeschooling, lack of cultural enjoyment, etc have downgraded our mental health.

We’ve got depleted reserves of resilience.

When you take this into a work context it’s easy to see that things that we might have sailed through previously now feel like bigger knocks. If you’re worried about your job and your industry it doesn’t feel like the time to raise your hand and say things aren’t ok around here.

Engagement surveys aren’t enough

Against this backdrop, designing the changes to your employee experience and culture based on a stand-alone annual engagement survey just doesn’t feel like enough. This has been even more obvious since 2020 – our feelings about work couldn’t have been more different in April than they would have been in January.

The reality is when any business experiences its own seismic change, they need to know how this will affect their employee experience and where their weaknesses (and strengths) already were. What habits and features are already in place to support changes in personal resilience? And what needs to be topped up to stay active and relevant?

The whole employee experience

We’ve been helping clients to use a new lens of Mental Health and Safety to audit their culture. This looks at the traditional areas of engagement with added questions and scores around specific wellbeing actions. From here you can decide which areas currently have the biggest reserves and which areas are most exposed.

By looking at the features, habits, and skills it’s easy to see how to move forward to build a stronger culture or take this opportunity to change for the better.

Changing a culture isn’t an overnight thing – it takes commitment, it will be challenging. All of the easy answers will already be taken.

However, the rewards are great – the energy of a connected, human-centred culture is incredible. And once you’ve set the right habits and features they’ll ignite people behind your purpose so they deliver brilliantly for your customers.

How we can help

We’ve helped large and small organisations to change their culture – from Banking and Insurance to Retail. We start with a culture audit and then create an achievable plan to activate the right features and habits to improve the experience for employees.

Get in touch if you’d like to chat about your culture change

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