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18th November 2009

Guidance is given on workplace wellbeing

Employers need to pay more attention to the levels of stress and anxiety in the workplace, key NHS advisers say in a guidance document on mental wellbeing in the workplace.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) put the cost of work-related mental illness at �28 billion - a quarter of the UK�s total sick bill. More than 13 million working days a year are lost because of work-related stress, anxiety and depression.

Recommendations made for employers say they should:
promote a culture of participation, equality and fairness that is based on open communication and inclusion;
create an awareness and understanding of mental wellbeing and reduce the potential for discrimination and stigma related to mental health problems; and
ensure systems are in place for assessing and monitoring the mental wellbeing of employees so that areas for improvement can be identified and risks caused by work and working conditions addressed. This could include using employee attitude surveys and information about absence rates, staff turnover and investment in training and development, and open communication.

NICE also recommends that if reasonably practical, employers should provide their workforce with opportunities for flexible working according to their needs and aspirations in both their personal and working lives. Different options for flexible working include part-time working, home-working, job sharing and flexitime.

Professor Susan Michie of University College London and member of the public health interventions advisory committee at NICE said: "Workplace mental wellbeing is important both for staff and the organisation's productivity.

"The guidance also highlights the need for good communication between employees and their managers and the need to treat people as valued individuals."

Bad managers were the single biggest cause of problems, NICE said. Yet simple steps such as giving positive feedback, allowing flexible working and giving extra days off as a reward, could cut the impact by a third.

You can download the pdf document at:
www.nice.org.uk/media/BFF/31/2009_063_-_Mental_wellbeing_in_the_workplace_APP_Upload.pdf

 

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