"Enhanced" Standard for Mental Health at Work

The issue of improving mental health in the workplace is one that’s right at the top of the agenda for many HR professionals in 2018.

To help employers achieve this aim, the recently published Thriving at Work report1 suggests six core standards for employers of all sizes to tackle this issue. They are:

1. Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan
2. Develop mental health awareness among employees
3. Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling
4. Provide your employees with good working conditions
5. Promote effective people management
6. Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.

Many employers are now actively working towards these six objectives. Recent voting responses at the Jelf Employment Seminars suggests around 1 in every 20 employers may have already met or surpassed these core standards. Yet the concern remains that these six principles may only present part of the answer. After all, having a set of policies and procedures in place doesn’t necessarily imply the workers that have to implement them on the ground, have engaged with the ideals presented to them. Or, more bluntly, mere formal compliance of a tick-box nature isn’t the same as genuinely changed attitudes.

So perhaps employers that really want to tackle this issue should instead look at the more ambitious “Enhanced” standards suggested by the Thriving at Work report instead? The additional principles below intend to apply to organisations with more than 500 staff and all Public Sector employers:

7. Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting.
8. Demonstrate accountability
9. Improve the disclosure process
10. Ensure provision of tailored in-house mental health support and signposting to clinical help

These enhanced standards focus much more on providing public proof and accountability of the procedures in place. They’re more likely to result in genuinely changed workforce attitudes than the original six suggestions. It follows that these principles should be in the ambitions of any employer who genuinely intends to improve Workplace Mental Health.
We’d strongly encourage employers to consider the application of all ten standards in their plans to combat poor mental health. For more information about how Employee Benefits can assist in these aims, please make contact with one of our local experts near you.

Steve Herbert is Head of Benefits Strategy at Jelf


[1] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/658145/thriving-at-work-stevenson-farmer-review.pdf