More than one in 10 (12%) UK employers do not believe in supporting the emotional and social wellbeing of their employees, according to research by Group Risk Development (Grid).
The survey of 500 HR senior decision-makers found that, among the 88% of employers that do support wellbeing in the workplace, flexible working (43%) was the most popular method. One-third (33%) choose work-life balance initiatives as their preferred method, while 31% stated that they provide employees the ability to take days off to support their mental health.
Other forms of wellbeing support include arranging social events (31%), access to professional support (27%), initiatives such as mindfulness training (18%) and mental health first aid (15%).
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson at 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 [EAP] 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%] 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.”
Lee Lovett, managing director, group protection at AIG Life Limited, commented: “In an age when society is becoming so much more comfortable with talking about mental health, it’s great to see that a high proportion of businesses appreciate they have a duty of care towards their employees’ emotional wellbeing.
“[Employers] that don’t proactively support employees’ health and wellbeing could see their own productivity, as well as employees’ trust in them, suffer. That doesn’t need to happen; group protection providers give employers access to the tools to help support the varying needs of their employees.”