Are employers doing better in supporting mental health?

Survey finds wellbeing is more of a priority, but many still lack formal strategy

Are employers doing better in supporting mental health?

It seems many employers still have more work to do when it comes to employee wellbeing.

Among the positives, 75 per cent of employers in the U.K. have employee wellbeing on their agenda in 2021, up from 61 per cent last year, according to a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

And 67 per cent of line managers now buy in to the importance of wellbeing, up from 58 per cent last year. 

There are also far fewer (27 per cent) employers that are “much more reactive than proactive” in their approach to employee wellbeing compared to the past year (41 per cent). 

And many employers now provide additional measures in response to COVID-19. These measures include:
more focus on looking after employees’ mental health (84 per cent)

  • more support tailored to individuals’ needs and concern, such as flexible work (83 per cent)
  • new or better support for people working from home (74 per cent)
  • more flexible approach to making workplace adjustments (63 per cent)
  • stronger approach to risk assessment (56 per cent)
  • increased employee wellbeing support or benefits, such as employee assistance program (53 per cent)
  • new or better support for employees with caring responsibilities (47 per cent)

One in five (18 per cent) Canadian employers have raised the maximums for their psychological service benefits since the pandemic began, according to a separate survey by the Conference Board of Canada.

Formal strategy needed

While 50 per cent of organizations now have a standalone wellbeing strategy in support of their wider organization strategy ─ up from 44 per cent last year ─ 46 per cent still lack a formal strategy or approach.

And 13 per cent are still not doing anything to improve employee health and wellbeing, the same as last year, found the survey of 668 organizations conducted from late November to mid-December 2020. 

While 26 per cent of organizations increased their allocated budget for wellbeing benefit, 59 per cent kept their budget allocation the same and four per cent reduced spending for this benefit.

A recent Aon report found that employer programs focused on improving employee wellbeing are good for business overall.

Presenteeism, leaveism

At least three-quarters of employers have also been aware of presenteeism (defined in this survey as people working when ill) among employees in the workplace (75 per cent) and those working from home (77 per cent) in the past year.

“Leaveism” (people using allocated time off to catch up on work) has also become widespread during the health crisis. Sixty per cent of employers have seen employees work outside contracted hours to get work done; 37 per cent have seen employees use allocated time off (for example holiday) to work; and 33 per cent employees use allocated time off when unwell.

Roughly 30 per cent have not seen this phenomenon among employees, finds CIPD.

Among those that have witnessed these issues, 45 per cent of employers have taken steps to discourage presenteeism in the past 12 months and 41 per cent have done the same to discourage leaveism.

Many workers are experiencing burnout these days – and employers are largely to blame, finds another survey.

Latest stories