Mental Health, Technology and Productivity


Modern life is impacting our mental wellbeing, reducing our resilience and ability to cope with change. Of the 32 million people in work in the UK today, approaching 20 million have experienced mental health issues of one sort or other because of work. Most business programmes, while stepping in the right direction, are still largely reactive, or not aligned with people or business strategy. Changes need to be made.

Our purpose is to contribute to our understanding of mental health and organisations by:

  • Establishing ‘what works’ in supporting employee wellbeing and preventing mental health issues exacerbated or caused by the workplace, and;
  • Connect conversations around mental health in organisations with wider business strategy and productivity.

Shortfalls in mental wellbeing are estimated to be costing business on average £1,350 per employee, or £38bn a year, but equally importantly in an economy driven by knowledge, innovation and creativity, it risks the very lifeblood of modern productivity and market edge.

There are new factors which suggest that we will need to go a good deal further than supporting people whose mental health suffers.

  • First; Most of the business programmes to date whilst often good, are still largely reactive. In other words the initiatives only kick in when people start to present mental health issues in the workplace, are geared to dealing with symptoms and do not address causes and their prevention.
  • Second: Mental Health is considered a stand alone topic, disconnected from business’s mainstream activities and certainly not part of a wider productivity and people equation. Solutions arrived at in such a narrow way can hardly be considered sustainable.
  • Third: As business introduces artificial intelligence and big data in search of greater productivity gains, it will transform work, as people may well have their every move monitored, increasing stress levels.


Mental wellbeing should be at or near the top of our agenda. 91% of managers agree, and feel that what they do affects the wellbeing of their staff. However only 58% of employees feel that their line manager is genuinely concerned and for people who are suffering from anxiety and depression the picture becomes a good deal more bleak, with only 4-5% of people feeling that they can even raise these issues with the business they are part of. It highlights that for all our willingness to talk openly about mental health, people who are impacted the most feel the most unsure that their condition will not only be taken seriously but will also be ‘acceptable’ in the prevailing culture of their organisation.

In fact 11% of people who have had a mental wellbeing issue at work, resign. 15% were put through a disciplinary process, 10% were sacked or forced out, and 10% were moved job with chances of progression stymied. Given this background we should also reflect that some people’s minds and lives are being seriously messed up, some are left unable to function, perhaps in a way we have not seen before.Indeed we are seeing a surge in the number of suicides related to work. It is now the leading cause of death for men under 50. In a survey of 12,000 people, about their financial robustness, people with significant financial worries were 7 times more likely to “feel depressed and unable to carry on”. As responsible employers how do we approach such topics in a way which starts to prevent these issues from occurring? It is undoubtedly complex and difficult to do.




What we aim to do

We will combine the consideration of technology, productivity and mental health issues. Whilst this will be more complex it will non the less force the research project to grapple with the realities and inevitable pressures associated with today’s workplace, economy and society.

  • We will use findings from our study to develop new ways of delivering productivity gains and improving people’s mental wellbeing.
  • We will explore test and create intervention and prevention strategies with the aid of business’s, social innovators, and health professionals.
  • Our approach will include business process, culture, relationships, leadership, work design and new technology, as well as economic and social factors.
  • We will produce a series of independent recommendations in a report for wider use in business, government and society.
  • We will run a summit sharing our findings with a wider audience and building a movement for change.

Most recently, we ran a roundtable to discuss this issue. You can find more information about the outcomes of the event here.


Innovation Labs & Pilots

Our Innovation ‘LiveLabs’ will develop testable solutions around in-work poverty. We ask:

  • How can employers help employees prevent, respond to and rebound from shocks?
  • What can employers do to reduce the impact of stressors on people?
  • What can employers do to help their employees build financial, social and emotional strength?


We will engage multiple voices including employers, innovators, charities and those living with mental health issues to develop practical solutions to be piloted by employers. To register your interest email


A Mental Health Summit

This event will bring leaders together from across industry sectors in a highly participative and innovative way. Using a broad range of perspectives to develop greater understanding and honest dialogue, getting to the heart of the challenges people face when living with mental health issues. We will explore new solutions and create an environment in which people can problem solve and commit to practical action.

In January 2020, we will hold a major summit on Mental Health, presenting back our work on mental health in the workplace and asking employers from across the UK to get involved.

We will share the insights and learning from each stage of the programme at a summit of leaders from both industry and civil society. This event will bring together leaders from across the ecosystem to participate and innovate. We will use a broad range of perspectives to develop greater understanding and honest dialogue, getting to the heart of the challenges people face when dealing with mental health issues. We will explore new solutions and create an environment in which people can problem solve and commit to practical action.

To register your interest please email

Our research to date has been funded by the kind generosity of our sponsors:


And the support of our valued partners: