Employers have been urged to adopt more flexible working practices after figures showed one in five workers called in sick due to unmanageable stress.
Speaking at Pensions and Benefits UK, Time to Change employer manager Chantal Mendes said employees suffering from mental health problems would be helped by being allowed to work flexibly.
She said the benefits of offering flexible working included improved staff morale, retention, productivity, and reduced sickness absence.
Mendes pointed out that 93% of workers staying away from work due to stress gave their employers a different reason for their absence.
Mental health problems cost employers £30bn a year through lost production, recruitment and absence.
The advice came a year since the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced employees could request flexible working from employers.
Advice on how employers could incorporate flexible working practices included:
• Arranging the best time for someone to work, whether an employee could work flexibly within the workplace, and maintain a work-life balance which suited them;
• Staff weren't encouraged to work long hours, such as not sending emails late at night;
• Encouraging people to take lunch breaks where they go outside for a walk and return in a much better mind-set;
• Ensuring a good working environment, so staff feel they can openly communicate to their manager but also feel they're not getting undue stress from superiors;
• Protecting those in high-risk roles such as the emergency services, and having debriefings to discuss their experiences at work;
• Effectively communicating health and wellbeing policies to staff and how they could use them;
• Supporting employees returning to work through home working, a buddy system and providing training to line managers about how to have conversations with employees.
Mind's head of workplace wellbeing Emma Mamo said: "Flexible working helps employees manage their work-life balance which is good for their mental wellbeing. Excessive workload and poor work-life balance are both often cited as causes of stress and poor mental health at work.
"It's in employers' interests to implement wellbeing initiatives. Staff tell us this allows them to more closely match their work hours to fit in with out of work commitments and work fewer hours after a busy spell in the office," she added.
The technology to improve employees’ wellbeing is already here. But it is now in employers’ hands to make sure it is used to create successful corporate wellness programmes
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