The world of work is not short of mental health ‘advocates’ among employers. In the UK, 1 in 4 people are affected by Mental Health problems. Mental Health charity Mind reports that a devastating 20 people in every 100 have had suicidal thoughts, with 6 in 100 having actually attempted to take their own life.
It’s widely accepted that job satisfaction can influence an individual’s Mental Health. A good work/life balance is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle; a fact of which more employers are becoming aware.
With the increased prevalence of a need for a system of support for Mental ill-Health at work, the importance now needs to fall on care for those not in work.
The number of people out of work in the UK is reported to be around 1.306 million. This means that, in-line with statistics, 1 in 4 people suffer from Mental ill-Health, around 326,500 unemployed individuals are suffering from Mental Health related issues.
With many companies consistently attempting to create a culture of care in the workplace, a question arises: Why don’t some companies offer the same care to job applicants?
An estimate of 5 applicants receive interviews per job listing, out of hundreds of applicants. This means that for each available job role, there are many unsuccessful applicants. An average of 118 applications are received for each job opening, with only 20% of these applications resulting in an interview. What happens, then, for the unsuccessful among the 326,500 unemployed individuals suffering from Mental ill-Health?
Multiple studies, from within and outside of the UK, have discovered that unemployment leads to impaired Mental Health; a discovery that seems common sense. Considering this, it may be logical to assume that companies pledging their devotion to Mental ill-Health support would offer the same care for those applying to work at that company.
This assumption would unfortunately be misguided. A study in which 92 jobs were applied for over a 2 month period, less than half of positions contained the disclaimer: ‘because of the number of applications expected, only the successful applicants will be contacted.‘ It would be reasonable, therefore to assume that all applicants would be contacted. However, according to Graduate Jobs job seekers get no response at all in 3 out of 5 cases. According to Graduate Jobs operations Director, Gerry Wyatt, employers ‘should make better use’ of auto-responses, suggesting that:
The best auto-response emails inform graduates that if they do not hear anything further within a particular time frame that they should consider their application will not be progressed further; provide details of other opportunities which the employer has available that the applicant might want to consider; give an indication of the level of competition that the applicant is facing for the job; encourage the applicant to keep persevering with their job search; and provide contact details or an online destination for where the graduate can get more information on the progress of their applications.
For a company to truly considerate itself a ‘Mental Health Advocate’, then guidelines such as those by Wyatt need to be followed. Failing to offer reasonable and timely responses to candidates can lead to job seekers anxiously waiting for a response that will never arrive; surely a factor attributing to Mental ill-Health.
A lack of response is not just a factor with the pre-interview application process, but with follow-ups from interviews. Interviews can be a time-consuming and anxiety-inducing process. Preparing for and attending interviews can be extremely nerve-wracking and have a detrimental effect on Mental Health. Following up with candidates post-interview is key to showing respect and consideration for their efforts.
On a humanistic level, employers need to make a conscious effort to be considerate of what individuals may be going through; not only for their employers but also for those applying to work for them. If an overwhelming number of responses to open job positions means that individually replying to candidates is impossible, auto-responses will suffice if they offer adequate information and direction.
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