Despite mental health matters being firmly in the public domain, over 700,000 UK businesses (12 per cent), do not believe in supporting the emotional and social wellbeing of their staff, according to research amongst HR decision makers undertaken on behalf of GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector.
Flexible working: most popular way to deliver emotional wellbeing support
Of those businesses (88 per cent) that do believe they have an emotional duty of care for their employees, the most popular method to support staff is via flexible or agile working, with 43 per cent claiming to offer this opportunity.
Flexible working is often highly valued by staff but employers should not consider their ‘emotional support’ box ticked by offering this alone. There are a number of ways to address emotional wellbeing in the workplace, and even those employers who offer a full programme of internal initiatives, should also ensure that professional support and counselling are readily available for those most in need.
Work-life balance initiatives
The second most common way to deliver emotional support is by offering work-life balance initiatives, such as encouraging staff to take their lunchbreak away from their desk and deterring a culture of working long or late.
The research highlighted the most prevalent methods that employers use to support their staff with emotional wellbeing as:
- Flexible working/agile working (43%)
- Work-life balance initiatives (33%)
- Ability to take days off to support mental health (31%)
- Arranging social events (31%)
- Access to professional support, such as counselling (27%)
- Stress management initiatives (19%)
- Mental health initiatives e.g. mindfulness training (18%)
- Specialist providers in place to provide support, such as counselling (18%)
- Mental health first aid training (15%)
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD said: “Group life assurance is the most popular group risk product with over 9.8 million people insured. As well as providing a financial pay-out, it can be hugely beneficial to staff as it often includes access to an Employee Assistance Programme which will support staff with day-to-day emotional wellbeing and access to counselling, neither of which are claim-dependent. During 2019, there were 75,446 interactions with the additional help and support services that are funded by group risk insurers across employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness policies. Whilst this is an impressive number, given that the overall number of people covered by this industry exceeds 12.8 million, it’s clear that many more people could benefit from this emotional support.
“It’s vital that both employers and employees know they have access to this added-value support, as for many it really is an untapped resource that is not being used to its full potential.
“As for the 12 per cent of businesses that do not believe there is any requirement to support the emotional wellbeing of staff, they will certainly feel the consequences at some point, whether that be a higher-than-average absence rate, falling productivity, or lower staff retention. No forward-thinking organisation can afford to ignore the emotional wellbeing of its most valued asset.”