EXCLUSIVE: Half of employers say mental health is biggest challenge for staff

Mental Health

EXCLUSIVE: Almost half of employers (49%) say that mental health is one of the biggest challenges faced by employees, according to research by Towergate Health and Protection.

The research was conducted at Employee Benefits Live in October 2019 among 39 employee benefits and HR managers, representing 17,000 to 20,000 employees; it also found that 80% of respondents’ organisations were proactively making provisions for mental wellbeing in the workplace. This included offering mental health training for employees (72%) and providing an employee assistance programme (EAP) (76%).

However, only 10% of respondents stated that they felt employees actually valued an EAP service and only 5% said that staff actually use it. 

Private medical insurance (PMI) tops the list as the most popular benefit for employers to provide for staff, with just over four-fifths (84%) offering this benefit and more than half (55%) citing this as the most valued benefit among employees.

EAPs (76%) were the second most common benefit offered to employees among respondents’ organisations, followed by healthcare cash plans (63%), dental insurance (58%) and health screenings (55%).

The second most pressing challenge for these employers as listed as engaging and communicating with staff about health and wellbeing benefits, cited by 15%.

For 90% of respondents, communicating about benefits is the responsibility of the HR team, while only 18% use an internal marketing or communications department.

The research also found that seven in 10 (70%) respondents are not making provision for dealing with an ageing workforce. 

Brett Hill, distribution director at Towergate Health and Protection said: “It is heartening to see that supporting the health and wellbeing of staff is clearly high on the agenda of companies, but support must encompass the needs of all generations, and incorporate physical, mental and financial wellbeing. Benefits must also be clearly and regularly communicated for them to be utilised and for the company, and staff, to get value.”