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Suicide prevention: Employee benefits only help if utilised and appreciated

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Only 53% of staff appreciate benefits ‘very much’

With World Suicide Prevention Day coming up on the 10th of September, GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector, has released new research on how employee benefits can help prevent suicide. The research also looked at how the benefits are received and their impact.

While employee benefits can help to prevent suicide by providing access to mental health support such as counselling, or assisting with debt and money worries, they can only help if they are utilised and appreciated.

According to the research, only 51% of employers even measure staff appreciation of benefits. This number moves in line with the number of employees. The smallest companies are least likely to measure appreciation of benefits, while the large corporates are likely to assess how they are valued.

The survey revealed that of those companies that measure appreciation of benefits, 42% said their employees only ‘somewhat’ appreciate them.

In terms of measurement, the most popular methods are through informal feedback to managers or HR professionals, or through formal surveys, with 41% of employers using these methods. Suggestion boxes and employee benefits forums or working groups followed, with both used by 38% of companies.

The least popular option was management information on utilisation of benefits, used by only 16% of employers. This measurement is a missed opportunity to gauge how much a benefit is utilised and could be effectively used together with other methods to understand how employees value the benefits on offer.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, commented: “If employees don’t appreciate their benefits, then it is going to be difficult for them to achieve what they are designed to do.”

“For this World Suicide Prevention Day, we would like to highlight how important it is that employers don’t just put benefits in place, but that they regularly tell their staff what support is available, actively encourage them to use it, and measure how much it’s utilised and appreciated. This is the best way to ensure benefits do what they’re designed to, which is particularly important in terms of accessing support for mental health.”

“There is a concerning set of circumstances in which employees seem to be blasé or indifferent to the benefits they are provided. Preventing ill health, both physical and mental, is a key reason for offering health and wellbeing benefits. Employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness all include a great deal of support for mental wellbeing. But if these benefits are not being communicated and appreciated, then they are not able to perform to their full potential and wellbeing may suffer as a result.”

“Suicide is preventable, and the support within employee benefits can help with this. Employers can play their part by joining in with this year’s theme creating hope through action and boosting understanding and appreciation of the benefits they have in place to support their people. This will in turn lead to better mental health outcomes.”

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