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Mental health and Customer Services - a management perspective

18 Feb 2020

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By Rob Small, National Disability Training and Consultancy Manager, Remploy

So we all know our greatest asset within our organisations are the people, right? And I am guessing you know that If we aren’t able to create a working environment that allows for open, frank conversations to take place around mental wellbeing and health, surely this is only going to cause further upset, frustration and challenges in retaining and developing our workforces further.

Not surprisingly according to a recent study conducted by Totaljobs, we still have a lot of work to do as leaders within our organisations; to create a culture that not only aids in helpful conversations taking place, but creates a working environment where ‘it is OK not to be OK’ and talk about it.  

The study shows that two thirds (67%) of UK workers would not feel comfortable discussing a mental health issue with their employer. Of the reasons they would not feel comfortable discussing their mental health with their employer:

  • 35% said they feel their employer would think negatively of them
  • 32% feel there is a stigma attached to mental health issues
  • 32% would be embarrassed
  • 32% don’t think they will get the right support from their employer
  • 23% feel it will impact their chances of progression.

In my view, this demonstrates that despite mental health being a topic which is discussed far more than ever before, there is still a real stigma attached to the topic. As such, employees feel that their own mental health will directly influence business-related decisions such as progression and longevity with an organisation.  

These areas, combined with the complexity of employees managing their own mental health, as well as that of the customers they serve only adds further pressures, and limits their ability to remain resilient.

In any business, delivering exceptional Customer Service is vital. But do leaders within the organisation understand the level of challenges that their employees’ face on a daily basis when servicing those customers, who may well be experiencing mental health difficulties themselves? 

Recent figures show:

74% of people, in the past year, have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. £74-99 billion is the estimated annual cost of mental health to the UK economy due to both absenteeism and presenteeism. 15.8 million working days were lost to sickness absence due to mental health in 2016. 300,000 people are estimated to leave work each year due to a mental health condition.

So are we in agreement that there is more work to do? Ensuring we support our employees’ mental wellbeing which not only has multiple business benefits; but of course it is the right thing to do to create positive work-life balances for our teams and making our working environments a positive and productive place to work.

Looking for help?

Why not visit our recent Advice and guidance post for useful hints and tips to start to change your approach to mental health in the workplace. Remploy offer a variety of services to help maintain and promote positive mental health and wellbeing. Our new Mental health and wellbeing for Customer Service roles training course has been developed to target those who are working in a Customer Service environment. It forms part of our wider mental health training series which can help upskill, and build the confidence of your employees and line managers. 

About Rob

I have 13 years experience of working for Remploy, both in contract/project management roles and working directly with customers who face a variety of barriers including disability, ex-offending and long-term unemployment. I joined Remploy having had a retail management background and it gave me a unique perspective of recruitment into work.

I have a wealth of experience in training methodology, consultancy, programme coordination and delivery, both internally and externally, and also hold a Diploma in Learning and Development. 

I head up the Disability Training and Consultancy team with Remploy and ensure standardisation and qualitative delivery of services across the team, as well as managing key programmes including those recently with The Education and Training Foundation (ETF), Mitie, Wincanton, Warburtons, Veolia and Morgan Sindall.

To find our more about our suite of mental health support services please visit our website or contact us. You may also be interested in our previous blogs, 'Maintaining mental health in a contact centre environment' and 'Mental health and wellbeing in Customer Service'.