Two-fifths of companies turn to AI to combat workforce mental health crisis

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HR leaders across the UK are planning to implement AI in their organisation to help streamline people management, including over 40 per cent who will use it mainly to help with workforce mental health.

Research, from the workplace and wellbeing platform Unmind, reveals the trends that will shape mental wellbeing at work between now and 2030.

Feedback from 2,000 HR leaders across the UK shows that 86 per cent think AI will be important to the success of workplace mental health strategies by 2030.

Despite fears over the privacy and security implications of AI implementation, HR leaders are optimistic about the impact it will have on their function, with over half saying it will have a positive impact on mental health at work.

Companies have already started preparing for the implementation of AI to help with workforce mental health, with a third of HR leaders saying their organisation has a well-established AI protocol in place, and a further 35 per cent saying they are developing their current plan.

Such plans are crucial for a successful deployment of AI, as 43 per cent of HR leaders also worry that the widespread adoption of AI in workplace mental health could lead to a lack of human touch and empathy, while 38 per cent think it could raise ethical issues. However, if implemented correctly, an overwhelming majority (93 per cent) think AI will be important to the success of the HR function by 2030.

Burnout rages across organisations

Another trend that dominates the research is the burnout epidemic raging across UK organisations, with 89 per cent of HR leaders agreeing that workplace burnout is a significant issue and a common problem in many organisations. What’s more, 72 per cent have noted an increase in mental health-related employee attrition or absences in their organisation.

Companies appear to be ill-equipped to address the issue, with only two in five saying that their leadership is fully committed to wellbeing being integral to performance in their organisation.

Half of those questioned also revealed they are unable to adequately quantify the financial impact of mental ill health on their organisation, with one in 10 admitting they don’t have enough data to analyse.

Unprepared for evolving regulations

The lack of data on employee mental health could become a bigger issue as regulations on reporting standards for mental health keep evolving. While 40 per cent of HR leaders think reporting on employee mental health within Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) is important for organisational transparency and accountability, only a third feel that their organisation is well equipped to meet evolving reporting standards.

Over half of HR leaders say that they are aware of reporting changes, but haven’t fully implemented necessary measures, and only 42 per cent say all their managers and leaders receive continuous mental health training.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Nick Taylor, CEO and co-founder of Unmind, said:

“There’s a widespread issue in the UK of poor training and management of mental health issues in organisations. Our data shows the extensive consequences.

“HR leaders and managers have a key role in tackling burnout and mental health challenges within their organisations. They need to go beyond just fixing issues – they should actively create work environments where every employee can flourish.

“The potential for AI is profound. It can offer personalised support 24/7 so that employees can overcome challenges and reach their goals. Managers can use AI for instant guidance and tailored education to build strong, psychologically safe teams. But it’s important to use AI safely and responsibly, and the tools are built by qualified people.

While this technology is in its early stages, its potential for creating more engaged and productive workplaces is evident. The time to get ahead is now.”