A failure to listen to employees on something as subjective as wellbeing risks the potential of disjointed programmes that fail to connect with the needs of people or business.
That’s according to research findings* that reveal disparities of opinion between employers and employees – the latter including line managers – when asked in what areas of wellbeing the organisation should prioritise support. While the research revealed broad agreement that stress / anxiety should represent a top priority, a significantly higher percentage of employees than employers stated this (51% versus 33% respectively). Even more pronounced though was the disparity of opinion on second and third place priorities, which completely differed; employees stating ‘depression’ (40%) and ‘burnout’ (35%), while employers said ‘men’s health’ (31%) and ‘women’s health’ (30%).
Legal & General says these findings suggest employers might not always be involving employees in the design of wellbeing programmes; something that might be needed to ensure relevance and value to both people and business.
Younger employees and line managers most want to up the ante on workplace mental health support
Looking at the employee responses by age, significantly more 18- to 34- year-olds than their older peers want to see stress / anxiety, depression and burnout prioritised. Also, a slightly higher percentage of line managers, in comparison to employees overall, want to see these areas prioritised.
|Which areas of wellbeing do you think your organisation needs to start to provide support on, or increase current levels of support, over the next 12 months? (Base: all employees). Note: top 3 areas only shown here|
|Stress / anxiety||51%||56%||51%||43%||54%|
These findings come against the backdrop of Business in the Community (BITC) recently calling on business leaders across the UK to make people a boardroom priority. BITC research reveals that the UK economic value of improved employee wellbeing could be between £4,000 – £12,000 per employee.**
Legal & General considers mental wellbeing to represent the foundation for all pillars of wellbeing along with – physical, financial and social. It’s this ‘whole person’ view of wellbeing that led to the development of its Be Well. Get Better. Be Supported. framework. This considers wellbeing in an integrated way and is predicated on getting people back to – or staying in – ‘good work’ as a key health goal, whether a claim is involved or not.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) states in its guidelines to help employers improve mental wellbeing at work, that an organisational-level approach (culture, purpose, employee experience) must be prioritised, otherwise individual level approaches (good line manager conversations, benefits, services, workplace adjustments) are less likely to be effective. †
Vanessa Sallows, Claims & Governance Director, Legal & General Group Protection, comments: “It’s becoming increasingly understood that wellbeing must focus on fixing work and the work culture, as opposed to only focusing on fixing the individual. This is about considering all aspects of wellbeing, including mental wellbeing support, in a way that joins the dots between: culture and purpose; good work and management practices; employees feeling listened to and valued; support from providers in the shape of a vast array of prevention, early intervention and vocational rehabilitation services.
“Without this, there’s a risk that the disparities highlighted in our research will only grow. As an industry, we need to help employers join the dots, helping also link this joined up strategy to key business goals, such as productivity, recruitment, retention, and even the ability to attract investment as wellbeing becomes a part of ESG metrics.**
“This necessitates a different way of informing wellbeing programme design and implementation; balancing the traditional route of what employers think is best – primarily informed by competitor programmes – with data that zooms inward, focusing on the work, work culture and workforce.”
*Legal & General Wellbeing at Work Barometer 2022. Legal & General commissioned Opinium to carry out this research, involving 1,005 senior managers or above in business’ with over 10 employees. Also 1,040 middle managers or below in business’ with over 10 employees. Field dates, 1 June 2022 – 11 June 2022.
**BITC, Financial return on investing in wellbeing could be up to £370 billion, new research shows, 24 April 2023 https://www.bitc.org.uk/news/financial-return-on-investing-in-wellbeing-could-be-up-to-370-billion-new-research-shows/
†NICE, Mental wellbeing at work, 2 March 2022 https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng212/chapter/Recommendations