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Leadership for Thriving Teams


The annual cost to employers of having people in the workplace experiencing mental health problems is between £33 billion – £42 billion. Over half of this comes from presenteeism when employees are less productive at work, and this figure doesn’t take into account costs from sickness absence and staff turnover. Organisations are learning that it makes good business sense to look after their employees.


So what do we mean by mental health?

Are you under the impression this isn’t relevant because you ‘know’ your team and mental health isn’t an issue where you work? Or that we should just ‘get on with it’ because ‘it’s life’? It is vital we challenge incorrect assumptions that mental health is about problems or someone else’s responsibility. The correct way to view mental health is that we all have it and we fluctuate between thriving, struggling and being ill. People can experience mental health problems but, with the right support, can still be thriving at work.We all need to be more aware of our own mental health and that of others, and know what to do when it fluctuates.


The Mental Health at Work Report, published in 2017 by Business in the Community, identified some startling statistics:

  • 60% of employees have experienced mental health issues due to work or where work was a related factor.
  • Three in five senior leaders (61%) believe that their organisation does very well in supporting staff with mental health issues, yet…
  • …only 11% of employees discussed a recent mental health problem with their line manager
  • 84% of managers agree that employee wellbeing is their responsibility and 91% of managers agree that what they do as a manager affects the wellbeing of their staff, yet…
  • …only 58% of employees believe that their manager is genuinely concerned about their wellbeing, and…

There continues to exist a pervasive culture of silence, a disconnect between senior leaders’ vision for workplace mental health, and the reality. Leadership is critical to embed mental health and wellbeing into the organisational culture.


Workplace Factors

We need to be aware of factors at work that impact on mental health so that we are able to reduce the number of people experiencing poor mental health and not just ‘manage’ them. Leaders can create a positive and supportive workplace culture that address the demands of the job such as hours, pressures to deliver, insecurity, expectations to always know how to achieve success and to then to fulfil that, balancing work with demands at home (e.g. family, money), the provision of flexible work options, the benefit of working from home balanced with potential issues such as lack of social interaction and poor communication. And the list goes on. It is about understanding what makes a difference and really knowing your workplace and employees.


The Mental Health Core Standards

Set out in the Thriving at work: The Stevenson/ Farmer review of mental health and employers, published in October 2017, these standards are a framework of actions that all organisations should be able to implement:

  • Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan
  • Develop mental health awareness among employees
  • Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling
  • Provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work life balance and opportunities for development
  • Promote effective people management through line managers and supervisors
  • Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.


Employers are well positioned to have a significant impact on the ability for their staff to thrive, with benefits for both employees and the business. Take ownership in your workplace. Empower line managers. Respond to and support your employees. Talk, train and take action.


Why would you not invest in the mental health and productivity of your employees when so much research by significant organisations such as Deloitte, The Lancet and Gallup, and a number of academic meta-studies, shows a consistently positive return on investment? Managers need the knowledge and skills to lead thriving teams to create a culture of wellbeing and thereby improving engagement, productivity and performance.


For further information contact Lisa, chartered psychologist, It’s Time for Change at lisa@itstimeforchange.co.uk


For training on how to lead teams for improved outcomes, see our Managing Thriving Teams training:

27 June Oxford Science Park

11 Sept Grove Business Park

25 Sept Milton Park