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Quarter of UK’s largest companies have increased focus on workplace mental health

Almost a quarter of the UK’s largest listed employers have improved their performance on workplace mental health overall in the past year, and almost half now recognise the link between financial wellbeing and the mental health of their employees, according to the second annual CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark – UK 100.

he benchmark assesses 100 of the UK’s largest listed companies with more than 10,000 employees each, representing a combined workforce of 5 million employees on their global approach to workplace mental health. It ranks companies across five overall performance tiers to encourage companies and investors to think seriously about mental health as a systemic risk, and to develop robust management systems so that companies and their employees can thrive.Since the inaugural benchmark in 2022, 24 companies have moved up at least one tier, including 10 firms who have moved out of tier five and almost a fifth of companies (19) ranking in the top two benchmark tiers, doubling the number from 2022. Of the 100, four companies have made the top tier, with Centrica, Experian, HSBC and Serco Group performing strongest overall. The biggest improver, however, was Weir Group, climbing from tier four in 2022, to tier two in 2023.

In the aftermath of the pandemic and with the UK facing a continuing cost-of-living crisis, 43 per cent companies in this year’s benchmark published a formal policy explicitly acknowledging the link between financial wellbeing and mental health. Compared to 26 per cent in 2022 this 17 percentage points increase is the most marked year-on-year increase across the benchmark’s 27 performance indicators.

Amy Browne, Stewardship Lead, CCLA said:

“Over the last 12 months, we have been bowled over by some of the feedback we have received from UK 100 companies. Many have used our recommendations to strengthen their own approaches, while others have used our insights to initiate and escalate internal conversations on mental health to the highest level. While it’s encouraging to see solid progress from many, it is early days and we’ll be monitoring companies closely over time.”

Yet while 93 per cent of companies recognise mental health as an important business issue, 34 per cent are yet to formalise their commitment to mental health in a policy statement. Similarly, 89 per cent of UK companies are clearly investing in mental health programmes and initiatives, yet only 33 per cent of companies report on their uptake.

Paul Farmer, former CEO of Mind, co-author of ‘Thriving at Work’ and member of the expert advisory panel for the CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark UK100, said:

“Workers in the UK have been caught in the challenges of the post-pandemic recovery and cost of living crisis and there are now a clear range of ways that employers respond. With approximately 15 per cent of the world’s working population experiencing a mental disorder at any given time, business leaders have a critical and hands-on role to play to step up to this new challenge.

“Leadership must be visible and it must be intentional. The marginal improvement we’ve seen this year in CEOs publicly signalling their support for workplace mental health could indicate that leadership efforts needs extra energy. This is an area of corporate practice that has significant moral and financial implications and which companies and investors alike should be monitoring closely. The positive lessons from Covid of a more compassionate leadership must not be lost at this crucial time.”

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