Employees Not Confident Discussing Health Issues As Organisations Look To Increase Spending

Two separate pieces of research have highlighted both the importance and the need for organisations to be providing the right employee benefits to their staff.

UK Employers To Increase Employee Wellbeing Spend In 2022

Research from Bupa Global has revealed that many employers are set to up their employee mental health and wellbeing spending in 2022.

According to Bupa Global’s Executive Wellbeing Index 2021, British employers are planning to increase the amount they spend on employee mental health and wellbeing by 18% compared to this year.

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[Related reading: Calls For Employers To Do More To Support Employee Mental Health]

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As part of the spending, 20% of UK business leaders plan to add a variety of new roles designed to support mental health such as Head of Wellbeing. One in four (24%) will bring in HR/management level staff with mental health responsibilities and 26% will introduce paid mental health sick days. 

A significant proportion of businesses (30%) will look to switch up their employee benefits by offering private medical insurance with mental health cover.

Flexible working was implemented at two-thirds (63%) of organisations throughout the pandemic and a further 20% of businesses say they are planning to introduce it in the next year. 

Finally, one in five chief executives are now taking on the additional responsibility of being 'Chief Empathy Officer' (CEmO) and three in 10 British businesses already have a ‘CEmO' in the post. A further 13% are planning to create the position in the next year.

41% Of Staff Not Confident Discussing Health Issues

Bupa Global’s findings should make for optimistic reading for many employees. That’s because separate research has revealed that a significant proportion of staff do not feel confident discussing health issues.

According to healthcare provider Benenden Health’s survey of 2,000 employees and 500 business owners, 41% of employees said they would not talk to their employer if they had a health issue. Among the most common ailments employees would not disclose are poor mental health, high blood pressure and arthritis.

In fact, the survey found that more than a third of employees (36%) have lied to an employer about taking time off for an appointment, with almost half (44%) of 16-24-year-olds doing so. The result is businesses finding it increasingly difficult to ensure staff are getting the support that they need.

The reasons for employees being reluctant to discuss their wellbeing at work are numerous. Worrying that people would think they couldn’t do their job (29%), believing they might lose their job (27%) and being concerned that they would be talked about (9%) were among the main ones.

Almost a third of businesses polled (28%) said they have concerns about offering support to staff in need. One in five (19%) admitted they previously hired someone with pre-existing health conditions but would not do so again.

Naomi Thompson, head of organisational development at Benenden Health, said: “Healthcare support should be available to all employees, not just senior staff, and despite some misconceptions, this can be implemented at an affordable cost. Tailored wellbeing programmes, developed with employee consultation and recognising the different needs of a multigenerational workforce, can increase productivity, support recruitment and promote a happier and healthier workforce.”

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[Related reading: Why Private Healthcare Could Be The New Norm For Businesses Post-Pandemic]

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Action Required?

The findings of the Bupa Global research should be eye-opening for employers that are not planning to increase their mental health and wellbeing spending going forward.

If you’d like to find out about the employee benefits available that can help improve your employee mental health and wellbeing, get in touch.

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Author: Gill Adams - Head of SME Growth