41% of employers think mental health is their biggest challenge

mental healthNew data has revealed that more than two in five (41%) employers consider mental health to be the biggest HR challenge currently facing their business.

The research, which was conducted by professional services consultancy Barnett Waddingham to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May), also found that this figure is higher than concerns regarding recruitment (36%), Covid-19 (Coronavirus) related absence (31%), bridging the skills gap (29%) and setting up and operating a hybrid working model 26%.

As a result, 79% of businesses have reviewed their benefits offering since the start of the pandemic and almost half (49%) have made changes as a result. According to the findings, increased health and private medical insurance options, and more wellbeing and mental health days, accounted for the majority of changes made to benefits packages.

In addition, the research suggested that employers are choosing to retain practices that reduced stress and employee burnout during lockdown, as more than two out of five (43%) organisations said they are likely to retain flexible hours or a core hours system. A total of 35% said they are also looking to keep designated slots in the day free from virtual meetings.

David Collington, principal at Barnett Waddingham, explained that it is encouraging that businesses are placing employees’ wellbeing front and centre of their hybrid working strategy, as well as increasing overall benefits spend and pivoting the package to concentrate on health and wellbeing.

“However, there is still a way to go to truly embrace the new world and enhance recruitment and retention. By listening to their people, employers can create a bespoke benefits offering which is adapted to the needs of its employees.

“An offering dedicated to supporting employee wellbeing will be mutually benefiting. The hybrid world is still evolving, creating its own range of challenges and opportunities along the way, and I suspect the most effective approaches will be co-created by employers working closely with their teams,” he said.