Staff mental health key to business future, says leading psychologist

By Barrie Hudson - 12 August 2020

BusinessExpert Voices

"It is no longer OK to do nothing about employees' mental health."

  • Professor Sir Cary Cooper says ping pong tables and bean bags in the workplace are not enough

    Professor Sir Cary Cooper says ping pong tables and bean bags in the workplace are not enough

The uncompromising message came from leading business psychologist Sir Cary Cooper during a webinar with Team Doctor director Rosie Runciman.

Sir Cary is Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at the Manchester Business School and President of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development, and is the author of more than 120 books.

During the webinar he covered a range of subjects, notably the likely effect of covid-related recession on problems such as workplace stress, reduced productivity and absenteeism.

He predicted that the mental health ramifications of the covid crisis on mental health at work would be huge, and must be addressed urgently.

Sir Cary cited numerous statistics showing that UK companies were bad at providing effective mental health and wellbeing provision, despite many believing they did a good job.

He warned against merely tinkering at the edges of wellbeing by focusing on what he called the ‘fuzzy stuff’ like ping pong tables and bean bags. 

These, he said, are low hanging fruit - there was nothing inherently wrong with them, but they would not solve the fundamental causes of stress and anxiety at work.

The real cause, he explained, as management structure and a lack of emotional intelligence on the part of key managerial staff. This, he said, was far more difficult problem to tackle than providing sushi at the desk at lunchtime, but must be done if real change was to be made.

According to Sir Cary, hard data gained by scientific staff audits will encourage even the most intransigent board to take notice of mental health and wellbeing issues at work. 

Poor management of mental health, he insists, affects both the bottom line and staff retention significantly, so can no longer be ignored by leadership teams.  

TeamDoctor offers organisations with a mental health awareness course supported by a library of more than 50 films, with advice and tips from experts in their fields. 

More information can be found at

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