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Promoting mental wellbeing at work overview

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Promoting mental wellbeing at work

About

What is covered

This pathway covers recommendations on how to improve people's mental wellbeing at work.
Work in itself is an important determinant of self-esteem and identity. It can provide a sense of fulfilment and opportunities for social interaction. For most people, work provides their main source of income.
Improving people's mental wellbeing at work can yield economic benefits for the business or organisation, in terms of increased commitment and job satisfaction, staff retention, improved productivity and performance, and reduced staff absenteeismFor example, Health and Safety Executive (2008) Management standards for work-related stress and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (2008) Building the case for wellness..
Work can also have a negative effect on mental health by causing undue stress. This can occur because of:
  • An environment that puts high demands on a person without giving them sufficient control and support to manage those demands.
  • A perceived imbalance between the effort required and the rewards of the job.
  • A sense of injustice and unfairness arising from management processes or personal relationships.
  • Physical factors such as material hazards, noise, dust and dirt.
Stress is not a medical condition, but research shows that prolonged stress is linked to psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression, as well as physical conditions such as heart disease, back pain and headache.
The recommendations are for all employers, irrespective of the size of the business or organisation. They may also be of interest to human resources or occupational health staff, employees and trade unions representatives.

Updates

Updates to this pathway

23 June 2015 Link to NICE pathway on workplace health: policy and management practices added.
16 March 2015 Minor maintenance update.
29 January 2014 Minor maintenance update.
27 January 2014 Minor maintenance update.
18 June 2013 Minor maintenance update.

Productivity and performance

The costs associated with employees' mental health problems are significant for businesses and other organisations. This can result in a loss of productivity because of sickness absence, early retirement and increased staff turnover, recruitment and training.
Evidence also shows that productivity can be reduced through the lower level of performance of employees who are at work but experiencing stress or mental health problems. This is known as 'presenteeism'.
It has been estimated that impaired work efficiency associated with mental health problems costs £15.1 billion a year, which is almost twice the estimated annual cost of absenteeism 
(£8.4 billion)Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health (2007) Mental health at work: developing the business case. Policy paper 8. London: Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health..

National strategies and initiatives

This pathway supports the following related national strategies, guidance and legal requirements including employers' duty of care:
In addition, the Health and Safety Executive's Management standards for work-related stress may prove a valuable tool when implementing this guidance.

Short Text

Promoting mental wellbeing through productive and healthy working conditions: guidance for employers

What is covered

This pathway covers recommendations on how to improve people's mental wellbeing at work.
Work in itself is an important determinant of self-esteem and identity. It can provide a sense of fulfilment and opportunities for social interaction. For most people, work provides their main source of income.
Improving people's mental wellbeing at work can yield economic benefits for the business or organisation, in terms of increased commitment and job satisfaction, staff retention, improved productivity and performance, and reduced staff absenteeismFor example, Health and Safety Executive (2008) Management standards for work-related stress and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (2008) Building the case for wellness..
Work can also have a negative effect on mental health by causing undue stress. This can occur because of:
  • An environment that puts high demands on a person without giving them sufficient control and support to manage those demands.
  • A perceived imbalance between the effort required and the rewards of the job.
  • A sense of injustice and unfairness arising from management processes or personal relationships.
  • Physical factors such as material hazards, noise, dust and dirt.
Stress is not a medical condition, but research shows that prolonged stress is linked to psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression, as well as physical conditions such as heart disease, back pain and headache.
The recommendations are for all employers, irrespective of the size of the business or organisation. They may also be of interest to human resources or occupational health staff, employees and trade unions representatives.

Updates

Updates to this pathway

23 June 2015 Link to NICE pathway on workplace health: policy and management practices added.
16 March 2015 Minor maintenance update.
29 January 2014 Minor maintenance update.
27 January 2014 Minor maintenance update.
18 June 2013 Minor maintenance update.

Sources

NICE guidance and other sources used to create this pathway.
Promoting mental wellbeing at work (2009) NICE guideline PH22

Quality standards

Quality statements

Effective interventions library

Effective interventions library

Successful effective interventions library details

Implementation

These resources include support for commissioners to plan for costs and savings of guidance implementation and meeting quality standards where they apply.
These resources will help to inform discussions with providers about the development of services and may include measurement and action planning tools.
These resources provide help with planning ahead for NICE guidance, understanding where you are now, and conducting improvement initiatives.
NICE produces resources for individual practitioners, teams and those with a role in education to help improve and assess users' knowledge of relevant NICE guidance and its application in practice.

Pathway information

Productivity and performance

The costs associated with employees' mental health problems are significant for businesses and other organisations. This can result in a loss of productivity because of sickness absence, early retirement and increased staff turnover, recruitment and training.
Evidence also shows that productivity can be reduced through the lower level of performance of employees who are at work but experiencing stress or mental health problems. This is known as 'presenteeism'.
It has been estimated that impaired work efficiency associated with mental health problems costs £15.1 billion a year, which is almost twice the estimated annual cost of absenteeism 
(£8.4 billion)Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health (2007) Mental health at work: developing the business case. Policy paper 8. London: Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health..

National strategies and initiatives

This pathway supports the following related national strategies, guidance and legal requirements including employers' duty of care:
In addition, the Health and Safety Executive's Management standards for work-related stress may prove a valuable tool when implementing this guidance.

Supporting information

Glossary

The following definition of mental wellbeing is used in this pathway:
Mental wellbeing is a dynamic state in which the individual is able to develop their potential, work productively and creatively, build strong and positive relationships with others and contribute to their community. It is enhanced when an individual is able to fulfil their personal and social goals and achieve a sense of purpose in societyForesight Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project (2008) Final project report. London: The Government Office for Science.
Mental wellbeing at work is determined by the interaction between the working environment, the nature of the work and the individual.
A micro business employs fewer than 10 people. A small business employs fewer than 50 people and a medium-sized business employs fewer than 250 people.
A micro business employs fewer than 10 people. A small business employs fewer than 50 people and a medium-sized business employs fewer than 250 people.
In larger organisations this might include chief executives and board members, human resources directors and senior managers. In micro and small businesses, this will usually be the owner-manager and in medium-sized businesses the business manager.

Paths in this pathway

Pathway created: September 2012 Last updated: January 2016

© NICE 2016

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