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Experts Call On Businesses To Do More To Respond To Record High Levels Of Anxiety In The Workplace

- The panel saw a stellar line-up of speakers made up of Steve Rowe, former CEO of M&S, Mary Homer, CEO of The White Company and Paul Farmer, co-author of Government review ‘Thriving at work' and the CEO at Mind

The CEO of Mind has called on businesses to make mental health a top priority to address the “silent mental health crisis” which has doubled since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The very first ‘What’s Next?’ live event discussion, hosted by Q5, an award-winning organisational health consultancy, and Prospect Magazine, saw experts from across the world of retail and mental health come together to tackle an important conversation regarding rising anxiety levels in the workplace.

Speakers Steve Rowe, former CEO of M&S, Mary Homer, CEO of The White Company, and Paul Farmer, co-author of Government review ‘Thriving at Work’ and CEO of Mind, all joined forces to discuss best practices in front of a live audience.

With 1 in 6 working-age adults having symptoms associated with mental ill health at any given time* it has never been more important for businesses and employers to research into anxiety and mental health and what more they can do to support staff.


During this live streamed discussion, the expert panel shared their thoughts, experiences, and actionable advice for organisations seeking to thrive and respond to the increasing levels of anxiety from partners and employees in the current market.

Here are the panel member’s top tips for tackling rising stress and anxiety in the workplace:

  • Open Policy – Steve Rowe, who previously worked as the Director of Food at M&S for 35 years, explained the importance of having an open policy in the workplace, so that colleagues feel comfortable to talk about any struggles they might be facing both at work and at home. Speaking about the stressors employees are currently facing from the pandemic, as well as rising costs of living and job insecurity, he expresses that it does not come as a surprise that people are experiencing record-high levels of anxiety. This highlights the need for businesses to put measures in place and talk openly to ensure people expressed how they felt.
  • Workplace culture – Mary Homer, who recently celebrated her 5th Anniversary at The White Company, put emphasis on the business culture to improve anxiety levels. She explained that in her experience if you are able to provide an inclusive, empowering, diverse workplace culture, people will enjoy coming to work. Furthermore, by implementing support such as mental health first-aiders, employees felt more supported.
  • Balance is right – Paul Farmer CEO of Mind, explained how the balance needs to be right across all levels of the business, to ensure all staff from junior members right up to the CEO, all get the support they need.

Paul highlighted that anxiety and mental health was a huge issue which needs to be prioritised, but that we can’t do it alone. Everyone needs to work collaboratively to help ease the rising levels of anxiety.

He explained that in recent years we have reached a crossroads, with the pandemic opening the doors for a more flexible, hybrid approach. This has offered a different way of viewing work and what businesses expect from employees, but Paul states there was still a way to go to ensure the shift is felt across all workforces.

Speaking of the event’s success, Annabel Tonge, Brand and Marketing Director at Q5, said: “It has been fantastic to get such influential experts in one room and shine a light on anxiety and what more can be done.

“Mental health in the workplace needs to be taken as seriously as every other illness and the first step of this is getting the conversation started and spreading awareness.

“This is our very first ‘What’s Next?’ live discussion and we have been overwhelmed with the response. We can’t wait to delve into the next topic.”

Q5 are experts in organisational health and are passionate about helping organisations shape and deliver the culture that supports their strategic goals.