EXCLUSIVE: Three-quarters of employers feel responsible for staff mental wellbeing

Businesses could risk missing out on top talent due to lack of mental health support in the workplace.

EXCLUSIVE: Three-quarters (75%) of employers feel it is their responsibility to support employee mental wellbeing, according to new research by Group Risk Development (Grid).

The survey of 1,165 employees and 500 HR decision-makers, which took place in January 2020, also found that just under half (49%) of employees agreed that the responsibility for their mental wellbeing sits with employers, prioritising this over other wellbeing concerns.

A further 70% of employers also stated that it is their responsibility to support staff with physical wellbeing; however, only 32% of employees agreed. Six in 10 (61%) employers took responsibility for staff social wellbeing, but only about one quarter (27%) of employees agreed that this should be a priority.

For financial wellbeing, 46% of employers were willing to take responsibility, while 36% of employees expected them to.

Overall, only 6% of employers stated that they should not have to take any responsibility for the wellbeing of their employees in general, whereas 30% of employees felt that their wellbeing was not the remit of their employer.

In order of importance, employers listed mental (37%), financial (28%), physical (20%) and social (16%) as their priorities. For employees, the order and proportions were much the same: mental (34%); financial (29%); physical (22%); and social (16%).

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson at Grid, said: “Wellness and wellbeing are terms that have been around for centuries and nowadays have become fully mainstream in the workplace lexicon. With that comes an expectation from employers that employees will want support, and vice versa that employers will provide that support for employees. Employees have clearly highlighted that their priorities are mental wellbeing and financial wellbeing and it’s important that employers respond to this.

“There’s a lot more support today that employers can access to offer their staff which helps them fulfil their duty of care. Group risk products (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and crucial illness) are one such way of providing this support, and the embedded extra services within group risk products can ensure all areas of wellbeing are covered – those that employees prioritise but also the needs they don’t yet know they have, through unexpected sickness or injury.

“Whichever way employers decide to offer support, it’s important that they regularly review what’s available and put in place support that’s fit for purpose, and that their staff value and know how to utilise.”