Tag: Mental Health

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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Support must encompass all four pillars of health and well-being

A recent survey among 500 HR decision-makers in the UK has revealed that health and well-being support is essential in recruiting and retaining talent.

The survey, undertaken for Towergate Health & Protection, found that

  • 42% said supporting the health and well-being of staff is key to retaining talent
  • 31% said health and well-being support is a major factor in attracting new staff
  • 18% of employers said that insufficient health and well-being support impacts their ability to recruit and retain people
  • 26% of employers agreed that support for mental health had increased most in importance
  • 19% felt that the overall health and well-being package had grown most in importance

The research also indicated that the support on offer needs to be wide and holistic. Other important factors included:

  • Social interaction through work (11%)
  • Communication of support offered (9%)
  • Support for financial health (9%)
  • An environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy (8%)

The survey results, together with anecdotal evidence from Towergate Health & Protection’s client base, showed that while implementing a strong health and well-being programme is essential, communication of the programme must be wide and easily accessed and managed by employees and employers to make a difference.

The research also revealed that all four pillars of health and well-being – emotional, physical, financial, and social – are vital to adding the most value to recruitment and retention.

Debra Clark, Head of Specialist Consulting, Towergate Health & Protection, says: “The research supports our anecdotal evidence of the wider reaches of health and wellbeing support, and why it is so important that employers have a clear and well-communicated strategy. The wider the health and well-being support offered, the better the array of talent it will attract and retain.”

“Employees’ needs and demands have shifted dramatically since before the pandemic struck. We have all had a realignment of priorities, and employers need to match these if they are to attract and retain the best staff, which is only going to become more important.”

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How can businesses improve inclusivity?

A recent audit of the FTSE100 found that neurodiversity and disability are the areas of diversity most likely to be ignored when it comes to recruitment and employee support. The audit, conducted by Agility in Mind, looked at initiatives announced by FTSE100 companies over the last five years concerning age, disability, gender, mental health, neurodiversity, LGBTQ+, and race.

The audit found that despite 99% of FTSE100 companies having an inclusive mission statement, only 37% have a substantial disability initiative, and only 4% offer a neurodiversity initiative.

In partnership with research house, Censuswide, Agility in Mind then surveyed 250 UK business leaders to explore the disparity between support for diverse groups. The survey found that only 16% of business leaders describe their neurodiversity initiatives as ‘highly effective’, compared to 26% in both race and gender.

Although 15% –  20% of the global population is thought to be neurodivergent, with conditions such as ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, or Tourette syndrome, only 21.7% of autistic people are currently working – making them the least likely to be employed of any disabled group.

Agility in Mind’s ‘Inclusive Growth’ playbook offers a six-step framework for managers struggling to implement this type of organisational change:

  • Remember, your organisation is unique, so simply copying other organisations may not achieve the results you want to see
  • Start with inclusivity in mind by bringing diverse views into the team managing change
  • Set out the characteristics of the organisation you want and share a clear vision for the future
  • Take small steps that are aligned with your vision to achieve real change
  • Iterate, ensuring you learn at each step, and share the lessons across the organisation
  • Make change visible to all, so everyone knows the progress you’re making.

Michelle Meakin, Business Services Director at Agility in Mind, commented:  “We’ve seen progress over the last few years with organisations of all sizes embracing change management processes to become more diverse. Core to this shift is in making sure that companies can build a culture of inclusion, making work accessible to everyone, which is able to scale as they grow.”

“However, where change is harder to track- such as with invisible disabilities or neurodiversity – businesses are still lagging. As the war for talent continues, organisations that are able to tackle this widespread issue are likely to see the most diverse – and productive – teams and reap the clear benefits of building an inclusive business. This is where the agile approach to change management comes to the fore; incremental change, a strong vision of inclusion and how to get there, and an openness to adapting the route are key ingredients to meaningful and lasting progress.”

Toby Mildon, Diversity and Inclusion Architect, said: “The disparity between commitment to nuances of diversity has been an ongoing issue. That only 4% of the FTSE100 offer initiatives to support neurodiverse employees, in comparison to the 47% that offer an LGBTQ+ empowerment initiative or are accredited by a national association for LGBTQ+ rights, is telling of how much work there is still to be done.”

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Companies need to build wellness culture into business

There is no doubt that the thought of returning to work-life after COVID-19 is filling many employees with dread. More than two years of pandemic related uncertainty and stress have taken their toll on employees’ mental health.

Lockdowns sent us into survival mode, and it is only now, as life starts to get back to normal, that we begin to process the reality of what we’ve been through. There may still be safety concerns. Cognitively, employees may feel safe, but they may not feel emotionally safe. In addition, new habits have had two years to develop, and they may be a challenge to break.

But there are practical reasons too. A recent survey of 1,000 workers conducted by messaging app Slack suggests that almost two in five workers are stressed or anxious about going back to the office after more than two years at home. Concerns about work-life balance, the cost of travel and food were among the reasons for their stress.

The study revealed that 75% of workers had experienced burnout, and one-third had put in extra hours.

The study also found that only two in five respondents think their employers value their mental health, indicating how essential it is for businesses to provide more help.

Employers need to recognise and empathise with the different reasons that workers may be reluctant or anxious to return to the office.

Seventy percent of respondents agreed that a four-day workweek would help their mental health and wellbeing. Almost 50% believe that a hybrid work situation is the best approach for mental health, yet only 25% can choose whether or not they will work in the office.

Chris Mills, of Slack, said: “An employee who is cared for and supported will be inspired to do their best work.”

“It’s positive to see UK workers highlighting that hybrid work and technology has an important part to play in their wellbeing.”

“To ensure technology continues to be an enabler of healthier workplaces, leaders can also set a good example. Building best practices, for instance on how to use features like ‘do not disturb’ and scheduled messages to avoid out of office messaging, can be a great place to start.”

Charlène Gisèle, High Performance Coach and Burnout Advisor: “It is more important than ever for employers to integrate and incorporate a wellness culture embedded within the company. Offering wellness solutions goes beyond a gym membership – instead fostering a wellness culture is what a company ought to aim for.

Instead of focusing on concerns employees can focus on the positive aspects of being back in the office: camaraderie, being able to see colleagues again, and having social work life back on the horizon are all great for mental health as opposed to social/work isolation which many employees have faced during lockdown.”

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Mental health decreased by 14% since start of pandemic

In a survey of over 1,000 employees to analyse how SME leaders in the UK adapted to the mental health needs of employees during the pandemic, GetApp found that 71% of employees received no mental health resources from their companies. This, even though good mental health decreased by 14% since the beginning of the pandemic.

The survey found that 18% of respondents told their leaders about their mental health issues. However, 16% of managers did nothing in response. The study further revealed that 11% of employees struggled with mental health issues, but their managers did not address their challenges.

Twenty-three percent of respondents were uncomfortable discussing their mental health conditions with their managers. A further 36% wouldn’t talk to anyone at work and would rather seek help externally.

Where managers did support their employees with their mental well-being, the findings were:

  • 55% took time to listen to their employees’ mental health concerns
  • 30% motivated their staff to take time off work
  • 27% scheduled regular check-ins
  • 42% of employees found the support very helpful compared to the 18% who found it unhelpful. The balance found the support somewhat helpful
  • 66% of employees who did receive mental health support received support via email, while 39% received in-person support, 24% received support through printed material, and 18% through virtual workshops

The study also found that 23% of employees now feel less connected to the company culture than before the pandemic. This is likely attributed to the fact that 27% of employees shared that their companies did not host social events, while 20% host them once a year. Nineteen percent host them once a quarter.

According to the respondents, the most valuable mental health resources were:

  • flexible work schedules (44%)
  • mental health days (36%)
  • access to a specialist to assist and provide employee support (24%)

Yoga and nutritional wellness programs were found to be the least useful resources.

David Jani, Content Analyst at GetApp UK, commented: “It was a surprise to see as many as 71% of our participants had not received access to workplace mental health resources at all during the pandemic.

This was also combined with a reluctance by around 23% to speak to a manager or decision-maker about declining mental health and 16% not receiving any response from their superiors when the issue was raised.

Having support from your company can be vital when experiencing mental health difficulties. This was observed from the 29% of workers that received assistance from their companies, with 42% of this group saying the resources they received were “very helpful” and another 38% regarding the assistance as “somewhat helpful” to their well-being.”

While UK employees appear to be reluctant to discuss their mental health in the workplace, effective support by employers is critical to the workforce’s mental health.

 

 

 

 

 

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95% of UK employees say their company doesn’t offer wellbeing support

The Employee Mental Health and Remote Working report conducted by virtual events and in-person team building company Wildgoose has revealed that one in six UK employees feel worried that raising mental health concerns with their company could put them at risk of losing their job. The report on mental health and remote working surveyed employees from 129 different companies on whether their mental health at work had improved or become worse during the last year. It also asked if those surveyed felt comfortable raising any mental health concerns with their employers and what they believed would happen if they did.

Results showed that 86% believed that their workplace is not a safe space for employees to be open about mental health.

According to the report, over the last 12 months, two in three employees have experienced worse mental health at work, compared to the previous year. As remote and hybrid working environments continue to be adopted by more UK businesses, evidence suggested that companies have struggled to adapt their mental health support processes, with the report revealing that one in three employees feel less able to raise mental health concerns during remote meetings, which has caused issues to go unnoticed.

The results also showed that just over one in eight companies in the UK don’t have a process in place for remote workers to report mental health concerns with the highest prevalence in SMEs, where this figure nearly doubled to one in five not having a process in place.

What employees want from their employers

Worsening employee mental health continues to be a growing concern and the researched showed that the change most desired by employees is for companies to offer more regular in-person meetings (36%) and for managers to receive better training on identifying signs of poor mental health (36%).

Just under a third of respondents (32%) stated they would like to see a process policy of reporting mental health concerns, which is not currently broadly offered, followed by assurances of job security after reporting.

Wildgoose Managing Director Jonny Edser commented: “As remote and hybrid working practices become more widespread, companies need to start doing more to ensure that employees are still receiving the same levels of mental health support. It’s essential that employers communicate with their staff, finding out how they would like to be supported. Perhaps they’d appreciate more regular workload reviews, weekly face-to-face meetings, or even the creation of better mental health policies. The most important aspect is that employees feel comfortable and safe to discuss any concerns.

Kristen Keen, founder and owner of Cluer HR, also commented on the report: “Unfortunately, there is still a stigma that surrounds mental health issues and a lack of education on the subject. To help improve employee wellbeing at work, both managers and the entire workforce should receive training, so that everyone can recognise and understand mental health issues. Plus, having 1:1 meetings with employees is a great way to encourage people to safely discuss any problems they are having.”

Full report available here: https://www.wearewildgoose.com/uk/news/employee-mental-health-and-remote-working-report/

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Businesses admit resignations due to mental health concerns

Research from FutureLearn has highlighted the importance of mental health first aiders in the workplace. A new survey of 1,000 key decision makers in business has revealed that over one in five (21%) business leaders state they are willing to re-evaluate their mental health policies, offering reassurance that steps are being taken to support their staff’s wellbeing in the wake of the pandemic and to curb the apparent “great resignation”.

Currently, there are no legal requirements for allocated psychological first aiders compared to the requirement for physical first aiders or fire marshals – despite being a business essential. However, with the employee experience now in sharp focus, businesses are proactively improving mental health support in the workplace to combat trauma felt post the pandemic. According to the report there has been an increase of 10% of businesses with support in place. This comes after 68% businesses admitted to not having mental health support for their staff pre-pandemic, with this number decreasing to 58% post-pandemic. With 12% of employees revealing they have left their job citing mental health as one of the main reasons for leaving, it is clear just how important mental health policies are when it comes to the retention of staff.

The report revealed that of the businesses who have made changes to their policies since the pandemic, 42% have already implemented online counselling for employees and 34% have already invested in mental health first aiders.

Yvonne Chien, Chief Growth Officer at FutureLearn commented: “We commissioned this survey to reinforce the importance of mental wellbeing in the workplace. We’ve seen how the past 18 months have impacted mental health. This national shift has only strengthened our belief in the significance of businesses having access to the right support.”

Conrad Vivers, Mental Health Champion at FutureLearn said: “I’m proud to be a part of a team to help change the conversation we are having about mental health in the workplace. Being a mental health first aider has given me the skills and insight to not only give 1 to 1 support for those in need, but also to confidently bring mental health as a talking point to meetings where people are at the core of the discussion. Through supporting people in the workplace with mental health challenges we’re impacting the evolution and elevation of society. The ripple effects of these actions lead to a safer environment for employees and help FutureLearn fulfil its duty of care towards employees. In some form or another most people need support. Even if it’s just to say: “me too, it’s been tough.””

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People living with dementia is set to triple by 2050

According to a new survey conducted by HIVE360, more UK workers are having to combine full and part time work with caring for an unwell or disabled loved ones. The ‘sandwich generation’ now looking after young children and elderly relatives, needs more support from their bosses post-pandemic.

According to David McCormack, CEO at HIVE360, the company has recorded a steady climb in the number of employees accessing specialist carer support. This data has been gathered from its employee experience platform called Engage.

David commented: “This hidden workforce is under enormous pressure and feeling the strain and are seeking out telephone advice and online guidance on how to cope and manage the impact on their physical and mental health and wellbeing, 24-hours a day, seven days a week.”

In a complementary report published recently by Aon, it is predicted that by 2040 one in six UK workers will balance their job with caring responsibilities. This figure means that unpaid carers will provide around £132 million worth of care per annum with 2.6 million people having given up work to provide care at home. The report also found that almost half of workers with caring responsibilities describe their situation as stressful, with 20% falling ill themselves.

David made further comment: “This represents a 12% increase since 2013. The UK’s population is ageing; around one-fifth of the UK population (19%) or around 12.3 million people was aged 65 or over in 2019, or around 12.3 million people. And it is projected there will be an additional 7.5 million people aged 65 years and over in the UK in 50 years’ time.

“Furthermore, the population of people living with dementia is set to triple by 2050, according to recent data published by Alzheimer’s Society.

“The sandwich generation is likely to grow in step with this changing profile of the UK population, and in turn, the numbers of workers juggling caring for a loved one. The new right for employees to take up to one week of unpaid carer’s leave per year announced by the government this month, is a positive step in the right direction towards giving the hidden workforce of carers the support, understanding and flexibility they need.”

 

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Employers are prioritising plans to improve productivity

Since the start of the pandemic, rising financial stress due to an uncertain economy has created a downward spiral on employee wellbeing that has impacted employee performance. A study by borofree revealed that an average of 3.05 working days were taken off by workers in Great Britain last year due to the financial stress felt by employees.

The study examined the plans that companies across the UK now aim to implement in order to improve employee productivity, financial wellbeing and increase morale in the workplace as business recovery begins to take shape.

The research, which was conducted online by YouGov, highlights that HR decision makers are feeling optimistic about building stronger employee productivity as the economy settles into a ‘new normal’ with over half (57%) believing that employee productivity is set to  increase over the next 12 months.

Action taken from businesses to increase employee wellbeing over the next year will be critical for them to regain strong post-pandemic productivity growth and recover from a challenging 18 months. In fact, 83% of HR decision makers surveyed revealed that their business will be prioritising plans to improve employee productivity over the next year. Improving pay and working conditions for employees is high on the agenda for companies looking to regain lost morale due to the pandemic, with almost a third (31%) stating that this will be a business priority for them this year.

Across Britain the study highlights that employers are searching for new ways to increase productivity. The research shows that wellbeing is now a vital part of ensuring that teams remain productive, with over one in five (23%) companies looking to introduce new or improved health and wellness benefits for employees to improve morale and productivity over the next two years.

Despite financial worries among the UK workforce being a cause of emotional stress, the study shows that offering financial wellbeing initiatives as part of a businesses’ productivity recovery plan is still being overlooked. Whilst financial stress is a contributing factor to absenteeism in the workplace, only 12% of HR decision makers are looking to introduce personal finance coaching and training to employees to improve morale and productivity amongst teams within the next two years.

Minck Hermans, CEO and Co-founder at borofree, comments: “Whilst it’s great to see that businesses are prioritising incentives to build stronger employee productivity following a challenging 18 months, it’s critical that they do not overlook initiatives to promote better financial wellbeing amongst teams.

Our findings show that financial stress can lead to increased absenteeism in the workplace and the effect of this will hit a company’s bottom line. For employees that seek a certain degree of financial security from their employer such as being able to absorb an unforeseen financial shock, only one in ten (10%) businesses surveyed have stated that they are looking to introduce earnings on demand and paid weekly options for employers within the next two years and just over one in ten (14%) confirmed that they’ll be introducing salary advance facilities (e.g., a loan a company can give an employee from their future salary).”

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70% of employees unhappy with leadership  

The Adecco Group reported results of its global study called Resetting Normal: Defining the New Era of Work. The report was said to examine the change in attitudes to work over the last year, as well as highlighting issues that companies need to address to stay agile in the current landscape. 

The study highlighted poor mental health as an emergent issue with more than half of young leaders (54%) suffering burnout. A third of workers also stated that their mental and physical health had declined in the last 12 months. The study stated that companies must re-evaluate how they support their staff and should provide wellbeing resources to their employees within the new hybrid working model.  According to the report, 67% of non-managers say that their leaders don’t meet their expectations for checking on their mental wellbeing.  

Leadership falling short  

Satisfaction with leadership is low, with only a third of non-managers feeling they are being recognised for the work in the business, and only half of all workers said that their managers encouraged a good work culture.   

Findings from the report stated that motivation and engagement is low with less than half of employees being satisfied with their career prospects in the company they work for with nearly 2 out of 5 considering new careers and moving to jobs with more flexibility.   

The Adecco Group’s Chief Executive Officer, Alain Dehaze, said: “For those who are not bound to being physically present to perform their work, it is obvious that we will never return to the office in the same way and that the future of work is flexible.  

Our research clearly shows that “one size will not fit all” when it comes to addressing employees’ needs and we’re increasingly seeing a leadership struggling to balance remote working and care for their teams. Now is the time to start bridging this gap by developing and equipping leaders and workers alike with the skills and capabilities they need to reignite motivation and build a cohesive company culture that maintains and develops a successful, resilient and healthy workforce.” 

In summary of the report:  

  • 82% of the workforce feels as productive or more so than before the pandemic 
  • Globally, 53% of workers want a hybrid working model where more than half of their time spent working is remote 
  • Long hours increased by 14% in the last year, with more than half of young leaders reporting that they suffered burnout  
  • 73% of workers and leaders are calling to be measured by outcomes rather than hours, while only 36% of managers are assessing performance based on results  
  • Satisfaction with leadership is low with an increasing disconnect with employees made evident. Only a third of non-managers are believed to be getting the recognition they deserve  
  • Anxiety about returning to the office is highest in Australia (53%), followed by the UK (52%) and Canada (51%). 

Do you have news to share? If so, please email debbie@talintpartners.com

 Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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