In a significant survey of companies of all sizes across the UK, Towergate Health & Protection reveals that the biggest concern for nearly half of all employers (49%) is the mental health of their employees now that remote working has become accepted practice.
Mental health topped the list of concerns for 49% of employers, with social wellbeing the greatest concern for 39%, and financial health and physical health both being the greatest concern for 30% of employers. Just 14% of employers surveyed said they had no concerns regarding the health and wellbeing of their employees under new remote working regimes.
Debra Clark, head of wellbeing at Towergate Health & Wellbeing, says: “Employers are right to be concerned about the mental health of their employees. Our working styles have changed, and health and wellbeing support must now also change to provide for the current needs of a hybrid workforce.”
Mental health underpins all the other pillars of health and wellbeing. Employers must, therefore, implement robust mental health support and ensure that regular communication is maintained with all employees, so they are aware of what help is available and how to access it.
Benefiting from existing options
Mental health support is often included under other employee benefits. For example, many employees will have access to an employee assistance programme (EAP) whether as a standalone policy or through group life, income protection or critical illness cover. EAPs can offer many levels of counselling – from talking therapies to online courses. Private medical insurance can include outpatient psychological support and in-patient stays. Cash plans, too, can include a level of counselling support.
Employers may also consider providing standalone support, not linked to other benefits. This may include access to online or face-to-face counselling, specialist courses, or training mental health first aiders to signpost people to specialist help.
There are now many online options for providing mental health support to employees. These include apps that monitor mood and have tools to help build resilience. These can help employees to manage their feelings and spot an issue before it develops into something more significant.
Debra Clark concludes: “Mental health is a spectrum, and everyone must consider their emotional wellbeing at some level. Support in the workplace now ranges from resilience training to stress and anxiety management, to assistance for more serious cases of mental ill health. It is important that employers are fully aware of what is available and communicate to their employees as to where to find help.”