Bringing evidence-based psychology to the workplace and Westminster

Poor mental health in the workplace costs UK employers an estimated £26bn, according to a new briefing published by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST).

The briefing, which draws on the evidence from peer-reviewed psychological research, was written by Aiysha Malik during her parliamentary fellowship, which was funded by the British Psychological Society.

The figure of £26bn, which is made up from the toll of absenteeism, presenteeism (where an individual continues to attend work despite being unable to function full capacity) and staff turnover, is drawn from research by the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health.

Aiysha Malik’s briefing also emphasises that the workplace can contribute to the development and exacerbation of poor mental health. The factors it mentions include stressful working environments, long working hours, bullying and shift work.

The briefing points to the benefits of changing the workplace environment and training managers to manage mental health can improve productivity and reduce absenteeism and costs to UK employers. It also says that access to talking therapies and employment support in primary and secondary health-care varies considerably across England. 

On a positive note, it gives examples of good practice in the workplace that reduce sickness absence associated with mental health and are financially beneficial to businesses. 

There will be more about Aiysha Malik and her work at POST – she describes the experience as “awesome” – in a future issue of our monthly magazine The Psychologist.