- Analysis of FTSE 100 annual reports suggests link between mental health and earnings
- Companies which address employee mental health and wellbeing in their annual reports enjoyed up to three times more profit
- Two out of three companies fail to make any mention of mental health in their reporting
Over the last few years we have come to understand the dangers in keeping mental health issues taboo. Suicide rates among vulnerable groups have climbed and powerful case studies publicised by Mind and other charities have put the dangers of hiding mental health issues in the public eye. The recent intervention of the princes Harry and William through their Heads Together campaign has cut through with popular press and taken the issue mainstream.
But what of Britain’s big corporates? Through office design and workplace policy they have a direct influence of the mental health of millions. How do they measure up in the new era of openness? Are they embracing the new open approach to mental health or still sweeping the issue under the carpet?
It was these questions that prompted us at Soma Analytics to run a sentiment analysis on all of the annual reports published by FTSE 100 companies last year. More than 20,000 pages of corporate reporting were scanned for references to employee mental health and wellbeing.
The results are revealing. On the downside, we found that two out of three of Britain’s biggest companies made no mention of mental health in their annual reports at all. On the upside we found that those that that did generated up to three times more profit than those that didn’t.
It’s not possible to say if this is a causal link but it is a statistically significant correlation. In simple terms, businesses which positively reject the taboo of mental health in the workplace appear to perform much better than those that don’t.
The full report is available here for download. It includes a foreword by Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity. Mamo writes: “This report shows how this country’s biggest companies are talking about the mental health and wellbeing of their staff. We hope that the positive results of this report encourage employers in the UK to do more for their employees”.
Like Emma, I want the report to help companies improve their performance in the area of mental health. They should use it as a mirror to understand how they talk about mental health today and how their peers do. We hope it provokes internal discussion and makes management think differently about how they view mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.
Our second goal is more strategic. In the 1990s, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement was just starting and very few annual reports cared to mention it. Today, nearly every company reports on CSR activities and there are rankings and indexes.
Ten years from now, we would like every company to report on the mental health and wellbeing of their employees in much the same way. The finding that there is a clear link between mental health reporting and corporate profitability should add motivation and a sense of urgency.
About Soma Analytics
Soma Analytics is a London based digital health business which specialises in detecting and preventing mental health issue among corporate employees.
It’s Kelaa smartphone app is driven by artificial intelligence and is used by some of Britain’s largest corporates. It reduces the costs associated with employee absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover, while increasing employee resilience, productivity and engagement.
Soma Analytics is also running a large scale randomly controlled trial (RCT) on the early detection of mental health issues in the workplace backed by the Horizon 2020 research fund.
The costs of work-related stress and depression in the EU-27 is estimated to exceed €600 billion annually by the EU’s Executive Agency for Health and Consumers (EAHC), with absenteeism (€272 billion) and lost productivity (€242 billion) accounting for the bulk of the loss.