UK businesses risk losing out on top talent due to a lack of mental health policies

Our latest research has revealed statistics showing that UK businesses risk losing out on top talent due to a lack of mental health support in the workplace. 

Our latest research has revealed statistics showing that UK businesses risk losing out on top talent due to a lack of mental health support in the workplace. In a survey of 1,000 employees, just 29% said they would stay in their current role at their present employer if they were offered the same job at a competitor with comprehensive mental health support and training.

For younger generations of the UK’s workforce in particular, the importance of businesses implementing workplace mental health policies is highlighted by a significant majority. 64% of 25-34 year olds say they would consider leaving their job if a competitor had wide-ranging mental health support. Senior leaders speaking openly about mental health and acting as positive role models is also a significant factor for younger workers. Nearly nine out of ten (89%) of 25-34 year olds and 75% of 35-44 year olds would be more attracted to a company where senior executives have freely discussed mental health.

When applying for a new role, more than half (53%) of employees would also be more likely to apply to an organisation that has a mental health and well being policy in place. Again, this was more significant for younger generations, with 73% of 25-34 year olds saying they would consider a business’s mental health policy before submitting an application, compared to 46% of those aged 55-64 years old.

The research also shows that 73% of line managers believe having a mental health policy in the workplace is vital in recruiting and retaining the best people. Indeed, line managers themselves are more likely to apply to a prospective employer with wellbeing support in place, with 70% of managers who manage four to six people and 66% of those who manage more than 10 people agreeing with this sentiment, perhaps indicating that line managers feel they require greater mental health support from their employers.

Other key findings from the research include:

  • 69% of employees say they would be more attracted to working in an organisation where senior level executives have spoken openly about mental health.
  • However, 59% of employees believe disclosing a past or current mental health issue to an employer would negatively impact their career progression - emphasising the need for more senior leaders and line managers to encourage honest discussions around mental health in the workplace and help remove the stigma often unfairly associated with the issue.

Interestingly, line managers are especially concerned about disclosing a mental health issue to their employer with 66% of those who manage four to six people and nearly three-quarters (72%) of those who manage more than 10 people believing any disclosure would negatively impact their career. In addition, 82% of line managers who manage four to six people, and 80% who manage more than 10 employees, also said they would be more attracted to working in a business where senior leaders have spoken openly about mental health, compared to 59% of those who do not manage anyone.

Nigel Wilson, CEO of Legal & General comments:

“We already know the serious impact that poor mental health can have on individuals and their employers. Our research highlights how important mental wellbeing has become for employees, particularly emerging talent, when considering their career options. Businesses recognising this and taking action to support the mental health of their teams will be in prime position to attract top talent to their organisations. Mental health support is not a “nice to have” line on a benefits package - the commercial imperative for business to support the mental health of its employees is clearly evidenced. It’s time for all progressive organisations to get on board”

Research was conducted by Delineate on behalf of Legal & General. 1,000 employees with a minimum of five years’ employment and 1,009 students attending or who have attended a Russell Group university were surveyed. The research was conducted in September and October 2019.