Gym Owner Monthly

2023 State of Mind Survey Reveals A Growing Need For Employers To Take Action To Address Workforce Mental Health and Safety

Released this month, the 2023 Workforce State of Mind Survey results reveal a widening gap between the needs of the workforce and the protection and support provided by employers.

Designed to explore the relationship between the mental health of individuals at all levels of the workforce and the action by employers to create protective and supportive environments that empower everyone to thrive, the 2023 survey is the third survey of its kind in so many years. This year, the survey, conducted between January 16 and February 10, attracted engagement from 918 individuals – self-employed and employed  – working within fitness and active leisure across the UK, as well as 68 employers.

Of the individuals that took part, more than half (54 per cent) have experienced a mental health issue in the last twelve months, with 73 per cent having experienced a mental health issue at some point in their life. This suggests there remains a significant level of distress across both measures amongst respondents consistent with previous years. Another way we gauge what’s happening, is by asking respondents to rate their ‘current overall health’ across four dimensions. “The overall average health score was 69 out of 100, but there were significant variations across the dimensions; social health was rated 74, physical health 72, mental health came out at 66, and financial health, a new indicator for this year, was rated at 63.

“This insight should matter to employers. In addition to a legal duty of care to employees’ mental health and safety covered by legislation such as The Health & Safety at Work Act (1974), employers are missing out on the commercial benefits of a happier, healthier, safer and more productive workforce. Deloitte (2020) estimates poor mental health at work costs private leisure employers between £702 and £769 per employee per annum. So, for a workforce of 200 that’s a cost of at least £140,400 per year.

“As a sector we need to be providing good work environments that protect and support our people and empower them to perform to the best of their ability. It’s the win-win-win that happens for organisations and our people who are then able to deliver the best for the customers we serve.

Of the employers who completed the State of Mind Employer Survey, only 49 per cent profess to having a mental wellbeing strategy with just 19 per cent stating mental health & safety is embedded in their management systems whilst being strategically measured and monitored. 28 per cent report a process is in place for regularly checking in on employee mental health, although only 8 per cent of individuals surveyed said somebody regularly checks their mental wellbeing.

Lindsey continues: “Whilst it is positive that 72 per cent of individual respondents with a line manager say they feel that manager cares about their mental wellbeing, caring is not enough.  We know this, because, despite the caring nature of their line manager, almost half (46 per cent) of people surveyed, would not be honest with their line manager if they felt they needed to take time off to deal with a mental health issue. This suggests stigma around mental health is still prevalent and preventing open an honest conversations.

“Most employers need to step up their approach. Whilst the survey suggests pockets of good work in this area, the overriding impression is that many employers are falling short with many probably not meeting legally required standards in employee safety.

“What is needed is a sector-wide commitment to raising the standard of workforce mental health driven by employers and supported by sector bodies. This needs to include education to empower employers to develop a culture built on prevention, protection and support, essentially ‘good work’ practices, that fulfil legal requirements and boost commercial growth. One size does not fit all. Employers need to work with their teams to design and implement a strategic approach, it’s key to meaningful progress.“

This year’s survey was supported by Active IQ, Alliance Leisure, Les Mills and Myzone. For the third year running, the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) also backed the research as its official partner.

Taking about this year’s findings, Tara Dillon, CEO, CIMSPA, says: “At a time when employers are battling elevated cost lines due to the energy crisis, we should all be looking at ways to improve efficiencies that deliver a direct and positive return to the bottom line. Creating good work environments where everyone can perform to their full potential not only addresses potential legal questions it also makes good commercial sense, and is quite simply the right thing to do.”

To read the full 2023 Workforce State of Mind Summary Report visit: and download your free copy.