1 in 3 employers back mandatory mental health reporting

two women sitting and talking health assesement

30% of UK Employers believe mandatory public reporting of workplace mental health statistics would increase transparency and accountability, and help tackle this important issue, according to a new survey from Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing.

The survey considered the recommendations made in the Thriving at Work report - Stevenson/ Farmer review of mental health and employers, and in particular, the suggestion that large employers (those with more than 500 employees) and all Public Sector organisations should implement a set of “enhanced” standards to improve the collective mental health of their employees.

The suggested enhanced standards include increasing transparency through internal and external reporting, demonstrating accountability, and improving the disclosure process.  Importantly, almost 1 in 3 (30%) employers were supportive of this suggestion, and more than half (52%) were open to the idea, subject to the detail of the requirements. Only 14% of organisations thought these measures would not help.

Steve Herbert, Head of Benefits Strategy at Howden commented, “The enhanced standards were suggested by the Stevenson / Farmer review two years ago and they were initially only targeting larger UK employers. We are delighted so many organisations of all sizes appear to now recognise the advantages of such an approach. It’s likely that introducing such measures as a mandatory requirement - across employers of all sizes - might potentially strike a significant blow in the battle to improve workplace mental health.”

Herbert points to the recent introduction of Gender and Executive Pay Gap reporting as examples of mandatory reporting of workplace issues resulting in an additional and specific focus from employers.  It follows that if the same approach were applied to workplace mental health statistics, it might well produce a similarly positive response. 

Herbert continued, “Poor workplace mental health is often a hidden issue. As such it will benefit all concerned if company-level data was made public, and it would also provide the foundation for many more employers to take corrective actions as necessary. It will be interesting to see if such an approach becomes mandated by legislation across a wide range of employers.”

The survey also found that employers may be experiencing very different levels of ill-health absenteeism as a result of poor mental health, anxiety, or stress. Almost half (44%) of respondents thought these conditions accounted for between 20% and 40% of their total sickness absence figures.  But other responses suggested a very wide variance indeed, with 1 in 10 employers suggesting that these conditions accounted for more than half of their corporate absenteeism, and the same number indicating that these conditions were the cause of less than 10% of overall absence.

Herbert concluded, “However employers choose to look at this issue, it is clear, poor workplace mental health is bad news for both the employee and the employer and is a measure that all good organisations are now actively looking to improve. There is a wide range of Employee Benefits offerings that can assist in this mission, and we would strongly encourage more employers to seek professional assistance in using these tools as part of a robust mental health plan and solution.”



The survey was undertaken amongst an audience of senior HR and Finance professionals at the Howden Employment Seminar in London on 4th June 2019. 


Do you think mandatory public reporting of workplace mental health statistics would help UK employers better tackle this issue?

Yes                                                                              30.20%

No                                                                               13.80%

Possibly – it would depend on the requirements       51.60%

I’m not sure                                                                 04.40%

No of responses:  159


What percentage of sick days taken at your organisation do you believe are related to poor mental health, anxiety, or stress?

More than 50%                                                           10.10%

40% - 50%                                                                  14.90%

30% - 40%                                                                  21.40%

20% - 30%                                                                  22.60%

10% - 20%                                                                  11.90%

Less than 10%                                                            09.50%

I’m not sure                                                                 09.50%

No of responses:  168

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Editor’s Notes:

About Howden’s Employee Benefits & Wellbeing division

Howden’s leading Employee Benefits & Wellbeing division in the UK provides strategic advice to consumers, SMEs and corporate clients on healthcare, protection, wellbeing and pension benefits, both in the UK and internationally. In 2019, the experienced team grew significantly following the acquisition of Punter Southall Health & Protection Holdings Limited and now employs approximately 200 professionals across the UK. The team is a multi-award winning and widely recognised for its innovative and creative approach. 

About Howden

Howden, the retail broking arm of Howden Group Holdings, provides a range of specialist insurance solutions to clients around the world. Together with Howden One, its global specialist insurance broking network, it comprises over 10,000 professionals, operating in more than 90 territories, and handling a combined gross written premium of over USD22bn.