Press release: Line managers key to improving wellbeing at work

Report calls for better support for line managers on employee mental wellbeing
  • Launched on Time to Talk Day to highlight importance of open conversations around mental health

  • Charity calls on businesses to introduce Mental Health First Aid training for line managers

The report, ‘Leading on mental wellbeing: transforming the role of line managers’, calls on all businesses to sign up to Mind’s Time to Change organisational pledge and to introduce Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training for managers. MHFA training is valuable for developing mental health literacy, spotting the early warning signs of mental ill health and building confidence to signpost people to appropriate sources of support – and is particularly relevant when set against a rise in common conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression.

The report is being launched at a ‘Leading on Mental Wellbeing’ event today, hosted by Royal Mail, with speakers including Luciana Berger MP, Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health. The launch coincides with Time to Talk Day, which aims to highlight the importance of having open and regular conversations around mental wellbeing.

The report shows a clear correlation between employee wellbeing and business performance, with improved engagement being estimated to be worth as much as £25 billion to the UK economy. Line managers are among those most severely affected by increasing workplace pressures, with the average manager working an extra 46 days each year and over half of managers concerned about the impact of long hours on their mental health.

Louise Aston, Business in the Community’s Wellbeing Director, said:

“We want to shift perceptions about the crucial role of line managers in improving employee mental wellbeing and business productivity. We’re encouraging employers to enable line managers to improve their own and others’ employee wellbeing for the benefit of their peers, their organisation and society. Offering Mental Health First Aid training is one way of enabling managers to spot early warning signs and signpost people to appropriate support. Our aim is to make talking about mental health business as usual.”

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive at Mind, said:

“Despite mental health problems being the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, many staff still don’t feel able to talk to their manager about their own mental health. That’s why it’s good to see employers looking more closely at the crucial role that line managers play in supporting staff wellbeing. There is clearly still work to do when it comes to breaking down stigma and creating an open, supportive culture that enables staff to speak up about stress and mental health. A good place for any organisation to start is by looking at how well equipped line managers feel in promoting the mental health of their staff.”

Moya Greene, Chief Executive at Royal Mail, said:

“Creating a culture where all employees feel able to talk about their wellbeing, and where managers feel empowered to play a role in helping to support those around them, is vital for a competitive and sustainable business. One of the biggest responsibilities lies with leaders, who have a duty to promote the importance of wellbeing right from the very top and ensure that it is recognised as a critical issue by everyone.”

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said:

“It is increasingly important that employers equip their line managers with the skills to manage people in a way that supports their wellbeing. There is a strong business case behind doing this but just as importantly it is a key part of employers’ duty of care to their staff.”

The report was developed by Business in the Community with its Wellbeing Champion members and with support from expert knowledge partners, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Mind, The Work Foundation and Professor Sir Cary Cooper. The report provides recommendations for how employers can empower line managers to better manage their own and others’ mental wellbeing aligned to Business in the Community’s Workwell model. 

To view the full report and call to action, visit:


Notes to editors

For further enquiries and interviews, please contact:

Laura Cooney, Workplace Communications Officer, Business in the Community: 020 7566 8653 /

Rebecca Gregory, Head of Workplace Communications, Business in the Community: 020 7566 6670 /

Key facts

Mental ill-health in society

  • One in four people experiences a common mental health condition each year
  • One in six workers experiences stress, depression or anxiety at any one time

Wellbeing and productivity

  • Mental ill-health is estimated to cost UK employers £26 billion per year, which equates to roughly £1,000 per employee.
  • Improved engagement is estimated to be worth as much as £25 billion to the UK economy
  • Organisations with high employee engagement levels record better shareholder returns and higher annual net income.
  • One quarter of employees has considered resigning due to stress and a further one in ten has done so.
  • One in five employees is afraid to disclose a mental health related condition to their employer for fear of redundancy
  • Fewer than one in five employees believe that mental health issues are a valid reason not to go into the office.

The opportunity for better support for line managers

  • 34% of line managers still feel un-empowered in their roles and would welcome any move to increase their independent authority.
  • Four in five employees has reported that an inclusive leader had improved their performance and productivity.

About the report

This report, ‘Leading on mental health: Transforming the role of line managers - a blueprint for unlocking employee mental wellbeing and productivity’, follows the publication of Mental Health, We’re Ready to Talk and Mental Health We’re Ready to Talk: One year on, in 2014 and 2015 respectively. These set out the business and moral case for tackling the culture of silence that surrounds mental health, against a backdrop of rising mental health challenges and pressures facing the UK population.

About Business in the Community

Business in the Community is the Prince’s Responsible Business Network. Our members work together to tackle a wide range of issues that are essential to building a fairer society and a more sustainable future.

Responsible business is about how a business makes its money not just how it spends its profit. It is about managing growth responsibly while reducing dependency on natural resources. It is about how the business operates as an employer, supplier and customer and how as a neighbour it helps to create vibrant communities where people can flourish.

We are a business-led, issue focused charity with more than 30 years’ experience of mobilising business. We engage thousands of businesses through our programmes driven by our core membership of over 800 organisations from small enterprises to global corporations.

Wellbeing at Business in the Community

The wellbeing campaign at Business in the Community supports employers in ensuring employee wellbeing is a strategic boardroom issue. Our members are committed to promoting good physical and mental wellbeing to enhance engagement and productivity. We work to provide members with tailored and practical advice to achieve this.