Mental health in the workplace is, quite rightly, getting more attention now than ever before, which is helping break down some of the stigma attached to this important subject.
But even though mental health at work is now firmly under the spotlight, some businesses still don’t believe that they are responsible for supporting the wellbeing of their staff, new research suggests.
Many businesses ignoring their most valuable asset
According to a poll of HR decision makers, carried out on behalf of Group Risk Development (GRiD), the industry body for the group risk protection sector, over 700,000 UK businesses (12%) do not believe in supporting the emotional and social wellbeing of their employees.
Of the businesses that agree they should help support the emotional wellbeing of their staff (some 88%), nearly half (43%) say they currently do so by offering flexible or agile working arrangements, making it the top initiative offered by employers.
However, while flexible working is a perk that many employees appreciate and one that often helps them better manage their work and personal needs, businesses shouldn’t offer it alone and assume they are doing enough.
The second most common way to deliver emotional support is by offering work-life balance initiatives. So things like encouraging employees to spend their lunch breaks away from their desks and discouraging a culture of working outside of contracted hours.
Other initiatives adopted by employers to help support their employees’ emotional wellbeing include: the ability to take mental health days (31%), arranging social events (31%) and access to professional support, such as counselling (27%).
Speaking about the findings of the GRiD research, Katherine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “No forward-thinking organisation can afford to ignore the emotional wellbeing of its most valued asset.”
[Related reading: Mental Health At Work: Do You Know Your Responsibilities As An Employer?]
How employers can do more to help
While encouraging a culture that promotes a better work-life balance is definitely a step in the right direction for employers, the good work shouldn’t stop there. Employers should actively encourage their staff to open up and discuss any mental health issues they are experiencing. A good way to start such conversations is by asking a senior leader to talk about any mental health issues they may have experienced themselves.
It is also important for line managers to be trained to recognise some of the early signs and symptoms of mental health issues, so that they can reach out and offer suitable support to employees who may be going through a hard time.
Finally, there are a number of employee benefits and perks that can also help promote better mental health, such as:
- Discounted gym memberships
- Mindfulness training
- Employee Assistance Programmes
- Occupational health services
- Group critical illness cover
- Group income protection
Reading this it would seem we live in a very harsh world, however with 90% of employers wanting to help it is worth reminding our readers that offering help need not cost a lot. Speak to Premier Choice about some simple, low-cost measures that can have a significant impact!
Stephen joined Premier Choice in 2006 as a Group Risk consultant and became Head of Group Risk in June 2013. In December 2017, Stephen also took over responsibility for the Protection division within Premier Choice and works to grow this in the same way he has the Group Risk division. Protection is a specialist area and fits well with his experience and expertise in the group risk market.