42% view mental health as a key employee wellbeing challenge

Around two-fifths (42%) of employer respondents cite mental health as a key workplace health and wellbeing challenge over the next five years, according to research by Barnett Waddingham.

Its UK workplace wellbeing index, which surveyed 145 organisations with more than 250 employees, also found that 53% of respondents currently have an employee wellbeing strategy in place, 18% are in the process of developing a wellbeing strategy, and 14% intend to build a wellbeing strategy in the future.

The research also found:

  • 32% of respondents cite a lack of resources as the biggest barrier to employee wellbeing, and 18% of respondents feel expense is the biggest barrier. Other barriers to employee wellbeing include a lack of expertise (14%), and a lack of board-level buy in (13%).
  • 58% of respondents believe that the ageing workforce will be a key employee health and wellbeing challenge over the next five years, 28% cite changing workforce demographics, and 21% think that increased home and flexible-working will present a challenge to workplace health and wellbeing.
  • 71% of respondents perceive employee wellbeing to be very important.
  • 45% of respondents rank employee wellbeing levels within their organisation as moderate, 37% report wellbeing levels to be high, and 12% rank employee wellbeing levels within their organisation as low.
  • 94% of respondents offer flexible working to some or all of their staff, and 80% offer benefits to support carers, such as childcare vouchers or eldercare leave.
  • 73% of respondents offer bikes-for-work schemes, and 53% offer gym membership as a benefit.
  • 67% of respondents provide private medical insurance to some or all of their staff, 45% offer access to a health cash plan, and 23% of respondents offer cancer screening to staff.
  • 72% of respondents provide access to an employee assistance programme (EAP), 62% offer counselling support, 42% run wellbeing seminars, and 21% provide debt management services.

Laura Matthews (pictured), wellbeing consultant at Barnett Waddingham, said: “Wellbeing strategies need to take in to account the wants and needs of the employees to be effective for an organisation. Implementing a wellbeing strategy doesn’t necessarily need to be a costly exercise. It could be as simple as analysing what [an organisation] currently [has], bringing it together holistically and ensuring it is effectively communicated.

“Wellbeing is certainly on the agenda and in order to break down the barriers [organisations] need to understand what is important to their employees, and use data to implement bespoke strategies that are right for their workplace. With the right approach for each employer, wellbeing levels will rise and there will be a return on investment.”