Employers must try to do more to support their employees’ mental health, or risk their biggest assets becoming unwell and unable to work. And yet, despite COVID restrictions easing and people returning to their places of work, the pandemic continues to have widespread implications on people’s health.
Which is why organisations whose employee benefits packages aren’t working in their workers’ best interests stand to lose out in many ways.
New research from Nuffield Health has revealed that more than two in five employees (41%) have experienced a decline in their mental health since the beginning of the first lockdown in March last year.
This revelation, revealed in Nuffield Health’s recent Healthier nation index, raises questions about how easily employees will return to normality now that lockdown restrictions have eased. Indeed, 54% said their work is impairing their mental health.
The research also showed that 50% of employees pinpointed overworking as a barrier to undertaking physical activity and almost half (48%) said they were not aware of the steps they could take to boost their mental and physical health.
Financial worries are also taking their toll on employees, with 31% saying their financial health had worsened over the last year. Additionally, more than a fifth (21%) – an estimated 11.4 million people – said employers should undertake mandatory reporting on the physical and wellbeing initiatives they have in place to improve the physical and emotional wellbeing of their staff.
This finding alone should prompt organisations to pay more attention to their employee benefits packages and ensure any wellbeing initiatives they have in place are really working in their workers’ best interests.
Meanwhile, separate research from Legal & General (L&G) has revealed how line managers in smaller companies are calling for more support from employers on key wellbeing issues.
According to L&G’s latest wellbeing at work barometer, more line managers want more support from the top, for both their own and their team’s wellbeing.
When asked what steps would help improve wellbeing in the workplace, more than a third (37%) said clearer direction on how wellbeing initiatives fit within the company’s purpose and values would be beneficial. A further 34% said they would also support wellbeing champions or mental health first-aiders in the workplace, while 32% want support and training on how to have conversations and signpost support services for their teams.
Furthermore, 40% of line managers said they would also favour more joined-up thinking across departments, to better improve how organisations implement workplace wellbeing strategies.
Finally, a third would like to see simpler wellbeing strategies with less confusing terminology and jargon.
[Related reading: Remote Working Boosts Health And Wellbeing Of Older Employees]
These two pieces of research clearly highlight the importance of mental health in the workplace. Employers that fail to put initiatives in place to support their employees’ mental health are risking their most valuable assets: their people.
Are your employee benefits packages working in your employees’ best interests?