90% of employers have introduced mental wellbeing benefits during the pandemic

41% of employers plan to make long-term changes to remote working policies

Nine in 10 (90%) of employers in Europe have taken positive steps to look after the mental health and wellbeing of their employees during the pandemic, according to research by Littler. 

Its European Employer Covid-19 2020 research published in September 2020, which surveyed 750 European employers, also found that almost three in five (57%) of respondents were offering flexible working schedules so employees can look after children or sick family members during the pandemic. Furthermore, over half (51%) of employees say they were communicating with their employees on a regular basis to update them on how their organisation is dealing with the pandemic, and answering any questions or concerns they might have.

Just under a third (31%) had put in place mental health support services and an employee assistance programme (EAP) to help employees experiencing isolation, anxiety, depression and other issues relating to the pandemic. Nearly a quarter (24%) were offering additional training to managers to help them respond to employees in need of support, 21% were encouraging physical activity and 42% were organising video meetings or virtual events to encourage social interaction. Furthermore, 15% of respondents were offering more paid time off for and/or mental health days.

Eight in ten (80%) of respondents’ employees were currently working remotely or were considering implementing this change, with a further 41% making or considering offering this as a long-term benefit. Over a third (38%) cited the reasoning behind this was due to the difficulty and cost of new health and safety measures, 41% were looking at this option to improve productivity and a quarter (25%) were looking at this as an opportunity to close offices. 

Additionally, two in five (41%) of European organisations plan to change their policies to allow employees to work from home compared to just under a third (30%) in the US. However, over half (52%) of US employers would remain with a remote working pattern until the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic passes, compared to 34% of European employers. Additionally, 50% of US employers are requiring or considering more employees to work remotely, compared to 80% of European employers.

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Stephan Swinkels, coordinating partner at Littler, said: “The survey results suggest a fairly high level of effort from employers to offer flexibility and listen to employees’ concerns to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on their wellbeing, but there is more that can be done.

With the increased recognition of the importance of wellness to maintaining a productive and engaged workforce, employers can take additional steps, such as offering mental health services and training managers to help them spot these issues and support their teams.”