‘Pleasanteeism’ plagues UK businesses as many mask mental health challenges at work
● Over half of UK workers agree* that they feel under pressure to put on a brave face in front of their colleagues, despite over a quarter feeling like they’re not coping at work
● Businesses are sleepwalking into a mental health crisis with only 16% of UK workers feeling very well supported at work when it comes to mental health, and 40% saying they will look for a new job if their employer doesn’t do more
● Lime launches Mind-Matters, a new service that supports individuals to improve their mental health and build resilience in the workplace and beyond
4th August 2021, London: ‘Pleasanteeism’ – the pressure to put on a brave face – is undermining efforts to promote an open dialogue about mental health at work. That’s according to new research released today by Lime, the online-only provider of affordable healthcare top ups, which is urging the UK’s businesses to take simple steps to help employees improve their mental health.
A new report - ‘Keeping up Appearances: How ‘Pleasanteeism’ is Eroding Resilience’ - reveals that over half (51%) of UK workers agreethat they feel under pressure to put on a brave face in front of their colleagues. A quarter (25%) of respondents who are returning to the workplace or have been working from home are worried about having to be the best version of themselves when they return to the workplace, while almost one in five (19%) are concerned about their stress being visible to others.
But, behind the scenes, people are struggling. Just over a quarter (26%) of respondents agree** that they don’t think they’re coping at work, and over a third (34%) feel the same way about everyday life. This is taking a toll on the nation’s resilience levels, leaving four in 10 (40%)feeling less resilient now than they did before the pandemic.
Women and young people are bearing the brunt of these challenges, with 43% of women aged 16-24 and 49% of young men aged 16-24 feeling less resilient now than they did before the pandemic. The sense of pleasanteeism is also more evident in women than men: 56% of women –compared to 45% of men – feel like they must put on a brave face for their colleagues, rising to 61% for young women aged 16-24.
Pleastanteeism is masking a mental health problem that could be catastrophic for businesses, which are already operating in a challenging environment. 44% of UK workers suggest that low personal resilience impacts their ability to do their job effectively, with many admitting that stress and poor mental health has caused them to have an unproductive day (28%), lose concentration or make a mistake at work (17%), forget to do something important (17%), or even call in sick (9%).
Currently, only 16% of respondents feel their mental health is very well supported at work, despite 81% wanting their employers to support their mental wellbeing. 42% of respondents agree** that they expect their employer to do more – and 40% even admit that they would look for a new job if their employer didn’t do so.
Findings from the report suggested that workers would welcome simple initiatives such as employers being more mindful about workload and work/life balance (25%), greater flexibility in working hours (22%), time out to deal with personal commitments (20%), and mental health days off work (20%).
Shaun Williams, CEO & Founder, Lime Global Ltd, commented: “The past 18 months has had a huge impact on people’s lives, including on their mental health and resilience. The long-term repercussions of the pandemic are likely to be felt for years to come, and it’s important we act now to be aware of and prioritise both our own mental health and that of those around us.”
Lime has developed Mind-Matters, a brand new, affordable service that is designed to help people maintain their mental wellbeing and build resilience, through regular check-ins and 24/7 access to online and telephone support. The service provides access to fully qualified counsellors as well as practical support for things that may be impacting people’s mental health such as financial, family, health, and legal concerns.
Shaun Williams continued: “We know that employers have a lot on their plates and each workforce will require unique approaches for tackling mental health challenges. But there are plenty of simple and affordable avenues for doing so. It’s only by drawing attention to and prioritising mental health in the workplace that we can support one another to be as healthy, resilient, happy and productive as possible.”
The report – available here – includes recommendations from Lime and a panel of mental health experts around simple steps businesses can take to better support their staff when it comes to mental health and resilience.
Notes to editors
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About the data
This research is based on a survey of 2,132 UK workers including a minimum of 250 who work for SME's and 250 who are self-employed, commissioned byLime Global Limited and conducted by Censuswide between 06.05.21 and 11.05.21. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.
About Lime Global Ltd (operating as “Lime”)
Lime is on a mission to help the many stay healthy for longer by providing super-simple affordable top-ups to public healthcare, just where people need it most. Our customers can pick and choose the products and services that suit them best when they need them. Lime turns traditional health insurance on its head, offering customers a new, affordable way to safeguard their health, topping up the care they receive from the NHS – not replacing or duplicating it. We offer a top-up where it’s most needed, for just a few pounds a month, because we want everyone to have access to the best healthcare possible, no matter what their income. We're a small but fast-growing UK-based team, dedicated to providing outstanding customer service. We've designed Lime from the ground up to make it as simple and affordable for our customers as possible. From buying a product through to making a claim, we've reduced steps, simplified language and removed small print. We're an online business meaning our customers can access and manage their account themselves at any time with ease, plus, with no call centre, we can keep our prices as affordable as possible (although we will always be here to help when needed).
We are working to bring a portfolio of products and services to market that will directly support small businesses and their employees, including Mind-Matters, a new affordable service providing 24/7 access to online and telephone support designed to promote positive mental health and strengthen resilience in the workplace and beyond.
Lime includes Lime International Limited and Lime International Health Limited whose ultimate parent company is Lime Global Limited.
Lime Global Limited, Lime International Limited and Lime International Health Limited are registered in England and Wales. Numbers 09666467, 0180963 and,12473029 respectively. Registered office: Level 30, Leadenhall Building, 122 Leadenhall Street, London, EC3V 4AB. Lime International Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registration number 759122.
About the mental health panel
Dr Ben Littlewood-Hillsdon
Medical Director at HealthHero
M.D – USA Trained and Qualified, Advanced Trauma Life Support Specialist, Senior Orthopaedic Trauma Consultant, with a career in healthcare quickly approaching 30 years. Experience in providing direct medical care in a military, private and state funded sectors led Ben to spending recent years leading clinical teams and organisations in delivering whole system excellence. He’s been with Doctorlink for 3 years and Ben is often asked for professional comment by various media outlets.
Acting Head of Leadership and Management Programmes, Be the Business
Sheena McDermott is Acting Head of Leadership and Management Programmes for Be the Business, a national non-profit organisation focused on improving the productivity of UK businesses.
Sheena’s role involves creating opportunities for collaboration between businesses, through mentoring, peer learning and sharing of insight across sectors. This has given her insight into the particular pressures that owners and managers of small businesses have felt during the pandemic, as well as the steps that businesses of different sizes have taken to support their workforces.
In addition to roles in both the private and public sectors, Sheena previously established a social enterprise supporting sandwich generation women at risk of dropping out of the workforce and is an actively involved trustee of a charity focused on food insecurity.
Dr Chi-Chi Obuaya
Dr Obuaya is a Consultant Psychiatrist in the NHS and in private practice, both in London. He is also the Head of the Clinical Board at The Soke, a private mental health and wellness centre, a Clinical Adviser for a digital behavioural health start-up, Hello Tomo, and a Director for the Mind & Soul Foundation, a charity exploring wellbeing from a psychological and spiritual perspective.
A graduate of University College Medical School, Dr Obuaya has an International Health BSc from the University of London and an MBA from Imperial College.
Dr Obuaya commonly sees patient with Mood & Anxiety Disorders, Eating Disorders, trauma-related mental health problems and perinatal disorders
* This finding combines respondents who said ‘Strongly agree’ or ‘Somewhat agree’. Excluding respondents who are sole traders.
** This finding combines respondents who said ‘Strongly agree’ or ‘Somewhat agree’.