Mental health risks expose companies

download the 4 page overview (4)Mental health and wellbeing is the number one challenge facing organisations, according to a survey of safety and environmental workers conducted by safesearch.

The survey of 1,200 HSE individuals across 133 organisations is in its ninth year, and compares variations in year-on-year salaries of HSE roles. The survey also asks over 360 senior health and safety leaders a range of qualitative questions on the challenges faced by their organisation.

This year, the qualitative results show the number one emerging challenge faced by organisations was mental health and wellbeing. Eighty-five per cent of respondents said the health and wellbeing strategy is of high or significant importance within their organisations, however only half indicated they have a dedicated health and wellbeing resource.

Julie Honore, safesearch Managing Director, says “The results indicate that respondents are taking a piece meal approach to the health and wellbeing of their workforce. This area has only sat as part of the safety agenda in recent years, so companies and safety professionals are still grappling with this complex topic.

“Areas of particular concern for respondents were stated as psychological illness, mental health, fitness – particularly with an ageing workforce, drug and alcohol use, managing depression and stress management.”

Ms Honore says often a different skill set is required to tackle this issue; and it needs to be addressed strategically rather than having disconnected initiatives in place.

“Organisations that don’t call on relevant experience are exposing themselves to operational, commercial and reputational risks. Many organisations are taking a short sighted approach with ad hoc initiatives, rather than implementing programmes that have been thought through and are connected with the overall business strategy.”
“Forward thinking companies see their health and wellbeing strategy being connected to a more engaged workforce and understand this will result in appropriately managed risks and clear commercial advantage,” she said.

Cara Thiele, General Manager, Health, Safety and Environment, ManpowerGroup ANZ says now more than ever health and safety professionals need to keep abreast of emerging risks that have not traditionally sat as part of the safety portfolio.

“To ensure risks are managed appropriately and to gain traction leaders must know when to access subject matter experts beyond the traditional realm of safety, particularly experts in mental health risk management.”

Source: safesearch health safety and environment remuneration survey 2014/2015

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