Gig-economy contributing to jump in workplace stress and anxiety
By Craig Burton, Founder and Managing Director at The Works Recruitment, Leeds
The unfortunate suicide of one of our contract workers last year has led to a campaign to ensure all our consultants are Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trained. This will enable them to spot the signs of workplace stress or anxiety, such as frequent absenteeism, erratic behaviour or a fall in productivity. They are also trained to listen, give reassurance and information, and encourage appropriate professional help as well as self-help. In a drive to fill a gap in responsibility for contract workers, we are now urging all Yorkshire businesses to jump on board.
According to recent surveys carried out by Mind and MHFA England, poor mental health now affects half of all employees in the UK and is costing employers £34.9 billion each year due to sickness-absence and reduced productivity. However, as our own tragic experience has taught us, the cost of not identifying individuals who may need support is actually much higher.
In our experience, workplace stress is a major issue which can have disastrous consequences if not addressed. The rise of the gig-economy means that there is now a dangerous gap in care for non-permanent workers, who are most at risk of falling through the cracks amid uncertainty around who is responsible for the occupational health of these individuals.
Temporary workers don’t even have the benefit of established networks in the workplace which can be a lifeline for those in turmoil. This is why we’re campaigning to encourage other firms which recruit, manage and support contractors to join us and endorse Mental Health First Aid in their business. As an industry, we need to be much more in tune with how people are feeling. We have a moral obligation to look out for not only our own employees but also the candidates we work with – and together I know we can make a difference.
For too long there has been a culture of fear and silence around mental health, and while work may not directly impact an individual’s emotional state, you can’t leave mental health issues at home. I can’t help thinking that if a member of my team – or the client’s team – had been trained in Mental Health First Aid, we may have been able to at least identify there was an issue with the young father who took his own life, and perhaps even prevent the devastating situation.
We are working in collaboration with the Mental Health First Aid Campaign, Thriving Minds and Thrive Law in lobbying government to make it mandatory for any business employing more than 30 people to have a designated mental health first aider. We believe it’s a crucial requirement for any business who wants to support their permanent and temporary employees.
We are also now offering MHFA training, with our in-house mental health professionals, to all businesses in the Yorkshire area. If you want to find out more about our MHFA workshops, which we are running in our Leeds office throughout 2019, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.