Health and Wellbeing are key drivers of responsible business

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HEALTH AND WELLBEING ARE KEY DRIVERS OF RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS. THE NEXT GENERATION OF RESPONSIBLE LEADERS DISCUS HOW DOING THE RIGHT THING FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES IS ALSO DOING THE RIGHT THING FOR YOUR BUSINESS.

Enactus UK students join industry leaders to discuss belonging, wellbeing and resilience as part of the Enactus UK annual Responsible Leaders’ Accelerator event hosted recently by partner company HSBC in Birmingham. Almost 100 of the nations’ next generation of responsible young leaders engaged with responsible business leaders from Arla Foods, Moy Park, EY, Willmott Dixon and HSBC to discuss the future world of work and the challenges of wellbeing in the workplace.

Discussion points included personal experiences of the challenges of moving into the workplace from education, along with perspectives on how the workplace has changed to accommodate an ever-increasing demand for wellbeing strategies and the need for all employees to satisfy a desire to belong in the workplace.  The session ended with advice for future leaders on how to care for themselves and prepare for the work environment.

Key topics discussed included how to cope with the fear of failure and the importance of employer cultures to embrace failure and the positive learning environment that rewards such corporate and personal development. Panellists shared their personal experiences and advice on the importance of building resilience.

Considering the predictions that 30% of the UK workforce have been formally diagnosed with a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime – the parity of esteem between physical and mental health has yet to be realised. Employers must take this ambition seriously if positive change in the workplace is to be achieved.

All panellists commented on the main causes of work-related poor mental health, namely, too much pressure, workload impacting on ability to take leave and a lack of support. The discussion highlighted how more can and should be done by employers and employees to relieve that pressure. Employee mental health was highlighted as also affected by negative work relationships, and people not feeling able to trust their managers.

Concern was expressed for the rise in the number of employees who have experienced poor mental health due to work, or where work was a contributing factor, in the past year has increased significantly.

Students heard how a profound cultural shift is paramount, so that work itself doesn’t cause poor mental health. Where organisational needs are being favoured above the wellbeing of people, we won’t achieve parity between physical and mental health until more employers take ownership over their role and create workplaces that enhance positive mental health.

Financial wellbeing continues to be a huge problem. There is a fine line in the disparity between what the employee wants and what the employer offers in the area of support. Employers either aren’t offering financial advice or support isn’t accessible or visible enough in the workplace. Only 5% of employees say they receive financial support in the workplace. Just because someone is employed does not mean they are not in debt and prone to using unaffordable pay-day loan schemes.

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According to sources such as Business in the Community (BITC), 2 in 5 (39%) employees have experienced poor mental health due to work, or where work was a contributing factor, in the past year. This figure stood at 36% in both 2017 and 2018; this increase shows movement in the wrong direction.  Where employees are experiencing poor mental health symptoms not related to work, feeling lonely and isolated is the most significant factor (32%). This is particularly true for younger employees (48% of 18-29 year olds, compared to 19% of 60+ year olds).

Thanks to our panellists: Inti Habib, Jackie Hamill-Keays, James Gordanifer, Ricardo Vega, Chris Maddren and Lisa Upton.

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