As we return to work after World mental Health Day, new research suggests one of the most sought after skills since 2016 has been those involving wellbeing.
The independent learning provider, The Skills Network, has found a 230 per cent increase in demand for mental health-related skills, such as personal care, since 2016.
The study, which was carried out to highlight the skills gap in the UK workforce by revealing the most requested hard and soft skills, found that mental health is the 9th most sought-after hard skill across employers, just below nursing and warehousing.
The need for mental health skills has been steadily increasing throughout the past five years. In January 2016, they appeared in just 19,200 unique job postings. By June 2021 that figure had grown to 63,492.
Specifically, the top 10 skills by demand were Mental health (171,904), Learning disabilities (39,060), Nursing (24,915), Autism spectrum disorders (22,729) and Psychology (21,666).
Regarding nursing in particular, the Covid impact on the health and care sectors, found that mental health was the second most requested skill on job postings for nursing roles.
These findings reiterate a recent government study which shows the demand for mental health services is at a record high, meaning the national healthcare urgently requires increased specialist support.
Within the business world, bosses are being urged to be ever more mindful about the effect of recent events on their employees. Brett Smith, Customer Success Director at workplace management platform, Planday, suggested: “Think about what you can offer your staff to show them how valuable they are to you. They’re the face of your business and have the ability to leave a lasting impression on customers.
“How can you support them? Do you offer extra flexibility for when people need to change a shift? How much notice do people get when the new rota comes out so they can plan the rest of their lives? How frequent are positive feedback and team-building exercises in your business? Could these be improved? Investing in your people is one of the most important things you can do as a business owner.”
She added: “If you’re an independent business, try collaborating with a nearby business to offer discount codes for staff – this doesn’t have to be a huge discount and could ultimately bring both parties more customers.”
Leaders and managers need to be compassionate, lead with empathy, understand their people’s challenges, and work to help them through these tough times
Jamie Mackenzie, Director at Sodexo Engage, said: “With many businesses reopening their store fronts and calls for greater office-based working, it’s easy to assume that everyone is on the same page and are able to make the leap ‘back to normal’. But as research has found, not everyone feels the same way.
“Many will be suffering in silence, putting on a brave face in the workplace, and hiding the challenges they face, in front of colleagues due to a lack of understanding on and support for their struggles.
“The pandemic pushed many people to new levels of stress and anxiety, and employers must remember that some have been impacted more than others during this time and will need longer to readjust to their ‘new normal’.
“Leaders and managers need to be compassionate, lead with empathy, understand their people’s challenges, and work to help them through these tough times. Continuing an open-door policy for those in the workplace and those working remotely, offering access to professional help with an Employee Assistance Programme, and providing paid days off to boost mental wellbeing are just some of the ways businesses can help.”
Shaun Williams, CEO of Lime Global said that their research suggested that “workplace pleasanteeism” is rife with many hiding their problems and “putting on a brave face in front of their colleagues”.
He added: “With employees returning to the workplace, and many people’s resilience under greater strain as winter sets in, it’s more important than ever that employers open up the conversation about mental health at work.”
- The Mindful Business Charter has announced that 12 new organisations from the public and private sectors have signed up, committing to better working practices for mental health and wellbeing. It brings the total number to 92. Richard Martin, director of one of the founders, law firm Byrne·Dean, said: “The times through which we are all living continue to challenge the notion of work and of workplace. We are immensely proud of our work helping to promote and develop this important initiative.”
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