Mental Health: Workplace Wellbeing Initiatives

In Employee Benefits, Industry News, Mental Health by Claire Ginnelly

Mental health still a top priority for most firms but many in the dark when it comes to the effectiveness of workplace wellbeing initiatives…

Research shows that emotional and physical wellbeing are closely linked. Therefore, to stand the greatest chance of having happy, healthy and productive staff, employers need to be taking a holistic approach to employee wellbeing.

But many organisations are hamstrung by poor data and a lack of expertise when it comes to gauging the effectiveness of their employee wellbeing efforts, new research suggests.

According to research by the Reward and Benefits Association (REBA), nearly every organisation (92%) has some form of management information designed to evaluate the effectiveness of employee wellbeing programmes and initiatives. This figure is up from 74% in 2019, highlighting the importance employers are placing on such information.

However, many organisations are not affording intuitive insights into the effectiveness of their wellbeing initiatives because their management information is limited (cited by 49% of respondents) or poor in quality (cited by 43%). In addition, 36% said they lacked a suitable data collection method, 31% did not have the necessary analytics platforms and 25% lacked data analytics expertise.

Mental health still the top priority for most employers

The REBA research also shows that mental health remains the top priority for most organisations, with 89% stating that it was their boardroom’s first (67%) or second (22%) employee wellbeing concern. It should therefore come as no surprise that 78% of firms intended to introduce mental health/resilience workshops in 2020 or beyond.

Physical wellbeing was in the top two concerns for 69% of employers, while 25% said the same for financial wellbeing. Meanwhile, 51% of organisations had a wellbeing programme that covered all staff, up from 25% in 2019.

Speaking about the findings of the research, REBA director Debi O’Donovan said: “The Covid-19 crisis has reinforced the message that to be sustainable, an organisation needs to be innovative and resilient. That can only happen with a good culture and positive employee experience. Wellbeing is at the core of achieving this.”

Lockdown exacerbating employee mental health 

For the most part, human beings are social creatures, which means social interactions are important. But the COVID-19 lockdown that has seen most people furloughed or working from home meant that social stimulus has been severely lacking. As a result of such social isolation, many employees will have experienced a wellbeing decline, leading to them becoming disengaged.

Now, as workplaces begin to reopen and people return to work (albeit gradually), organisations need to be mindful of how the sudden social stimulus will impact their employees. Overwhelm could turn out to be an issue for employees who have spent the majority of the past three months isolated at home.

Line managers need to be aware of this and ensure they are supporting their staff however possible so that the return to work doesn’t make an already difficult situation worse. Effective communication and understanding individual employee’s needs will be key to ensuring employees have a smooth landing once they return.

It is good to see that so many organisations continue to prioritise employee wellbeing, particularly mental health. But this focus needs to remain as people return to work and firms begin the big push to get back on track.

Claire Ginnelly is the Managing Director of Premier Choice Health and has been in the private medical insurance industry since 1991. All her experience has been gained working for large insurance companies managing the distribution of health insurance products through intermediaries. She has held senior positions within Standard Life Healthcare, as Head of Intermediary Sales, and Groupama Healthcare, as Head of Distribution.