× MAD WORLD SUMMIT // 8 OCTOBER 2020: MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO WORKPLACE CULTURE, MENTAL HEALTH & WELLBEING
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New reporting legislation: implications for workplace mental health

14th January, 2020

Matt Phelan



Many UK businesses are now subject to statutory reporting requirements under the Companies (Miscellaneous Reporting) Regulations 2018. Businesses must provide reports to demonstrate how they have considered the interests of their staff to inform company decisions. The aim set out by the government is to ensure “...our largest companies are more transparent and accountable to their employees and shareholders." This will massively impact when and how businesses utilise data to report on their most valuable assets - their people.

As we’re now officially in the first reporting season (from Jan 1st) where employee engagement statements are required, it’s essential you understand how to meet the requirements of the new legislation and utilise it to benefit your business. Think of this as an opportunity to create a human-led business that understands its people and facilitates the use of reporting to improve mental health and wellness.

Who does it apply to?

The new reporting approach applies to any UK businesses that fulfil 2/3 of the following:

1.   turnover of more than £36m;

2.   balance sheet total of more than £18m;

3.   more than 250 employees

Approximately 10,000 UK businesses will fall into these categories. Businesses that fail to comply won’t be punished. However, if they don’t comply the company directors will be committing a criminal offence! Worryingly many business leaders within this range remain unaware of the new legislation.

How to comply with the new reporting requirements  

The employee engagement statement must appear in the directors’ report and detail the following information:

1.   How directors engaged with staff

2.   How directors regarded employee interests when making business decisions

3.   What impact has this had on company decisions

Put simply, businesses must demonstrate how they communicate with staff and demonstrate how this has created meaningful dialogue and influenced business decisions and policies.

How a data-led approach will help you boost workplace mental health

Every member of your team will have their own workplace concerns and frustrations. If left undiscussed these will often manifest into larger issues that can be detrimental to the mental wellbeing of your people.

By implementing a feedback programme you will have data and insights on your people so you can gauge how everyone is feeling and easily build relevant action plans to help you combat concerns, build on successes and create a healthy working environment.
This data can also be used to help businesses launch, analyse and adapt a wellbeing initiative that fulfils workers’ needs.

Strategies for success

It’s time to implement a robust feedback programme that helps you understand your people and improve their mental wellbeing. But how?

Before you embark on your employee engagement reporting approach it’s essential to communicate the importance of the initiative, how it will benefit everyone and that no one will “get in trouble” for anything they say. This will help to create an environment where people feel safe and empowered to respond. It will also improve the validity of the responses.

The simplest and most effective way to gather, analyse and segment staff feedback is through people analytics surveys and solutions. These solutions will identify focus areas, analyse your data and build reports for you. Essentially, they do all the heavy lifting so you can focus on action planning.

Create surveys that ask tailored questions around mental health, stress and workplace happiness. This directly coincides with the Governments’ “Thriving at Work” reports’ Core Value of “Encouraging open conversations about mental health.” When the results are in and analysed you can use the data-led insights to locate focus areas to help inform mental wellbeing initiatives and action plans.

To get more context into your quantitative survey data you can gather qualitative data (e.g. comments/discussions) from focus groups and combine the insights. This ensures your data is robust and you aren’t filling in any gaps when creating your wellbeing initiatives. The data will also help empower you in the boardroom and provide a strong business case to put mental health and wellbeing at the top of the agenda.

This is an opportunity, not a burden

Communication is the cornerstone of a healthy and thriving culture. By understanding the sentiment of your people and bringing that insight into the boardroom you will create a happier and higher-performing workplace.

The Happiness Index compiled a global report into workplace happiness and wellbeing in 2018. The key driver we found was “Feeling valued as an individual.” If you want to truly demonstrate how much you value your employees, then creating open dialogue and launching a feedback initiative that creates positive change off the back of their suggestions is a great place to start.


Matt Phelan

Matt Phelan is Head of Global Happiness with The Happiness Index As Head of Global Happiness, Matt is responsible for the global expansion of The Happiness Index. His passion is to understand how people experience happiness and his vision is to use data to visualise culture - similarly to how Google Maps visualises the world. He has a passion for investing and advising businesses that create positive change. He held an advisory role in the mental fitness business Arkeo and still supports its founder. Matt believes the future of technology is people. He feels it’s important for everyone to understand that we're at a crossroads where we need to ensure that the future of technology has a positive impact on our planet.

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