An article published in People Management on 18th March is reproduced for this month’s blog.
One in four employees have had no mental health check-ins during the pandemic
‘Experts warn of ‘criminal’ lack of communication with staff over their wellbeing, and urge businesses to encourage openness and train line managers appropriately
A quarter of employees have had no wellbeing check-ins since the start of the pandemic, a survey has revealed, leading to calls from experts for employers to “catch up” to the mental health crisis.
In the poll of 2,000 workers by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, 25 per cent said their workplace had not checked in on their mental health since the crisis hit a year ago. Similarly, nearly a third (29 per cent) have never had a conversation with their line manager about their mental health.
Only a third (32 per cent) of employees said mental health and wellbeing support improved over the pandemic, compared to 43 per cent of respondents who said their support stayed the same or worsened. Two-fifths (41 per cent) said they had less frequent wellbeing check-ins or none at all.
Mental Health First Aid England call for increased support
MHFA England has called on employers to increase support for employees, including encouraging regular wellbeing check-ins, facilitating activities to stay connected and ensuring managers have the training and resources to support staff.
Tom Oxley, a workplace mental health strategist, said the lack of communication between employers and their staff was “criminal – almost literally”.
“The Health and Safety Executive says you need to consult and assess risk, wherever your employees work,” he said. “With zero wellbeing communication, I would be concerned about the safety strategy and cultural practices of an organisation or a manager that would cast employees adrift.”
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This was echoed by Andy Bell, deputy chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, who said the survey’s findings reflected the “continued impact” coronavirus was having on the nation’s mental health. “Isolation, anxiety, loss, and trauma are affecting millions of people as a result of Covid-19, and this will affect every workplace in the country,” he said.
“Mental health problems cost businesses £35bn in the UK before Covid-19. It’s likely that will grow this year as a result of what many of us have experienced over the last 12 months.”
But, Bell said, there were simple steps employers could take to reduce the impact on their workforce’s mental health. Businesses can give their staff more control over how they work, and be more flexible with their policies on compassionate leave or caring responsibilities.
“A culture of being open about mental health at every level, encouraging people to seek help when they need it and training managers can all make people feel more confident and connected,” Bell added.
Survey finds women’s mental health has suffered more than men’s
More than two-thirds of women reported decreased confidence at work because of the pandemic, compared to less than a third of men (68 per cent and 31 per cent respectively). Women were also much more likely than men to report feeling lonely or isolated during the crisis (64 per cent and 36 per cent respectively).
Amy McKeown, mental health strategist and consultant, said it was unsurprising that more women than men felt isolated and lonely – and were suffering the mental health consequences – given the evidence that the pandemic has disproportionately affected them in other ways. “Thought needs to be put into how to support women’s health and mental health in the workplace because their needs can be different to men,” she said.
“The silver lining of the pandemic, if there is one, is a chance for worker wellbeing to become a board-level, strategic issue with subsequent levels of investment and support.
“I’d like to see a more strategic focus on health, mental health and wellbeing, with employers creating and implementing end-to-end strategies across the workforce. There needs to be an investment in health providers and support and a recognition that employees will need time, space and help to get over the Covid fatigue of the last year.”
It was only in September 2020 that I wrote about this issue with employees being out of sight and out of mind increasing isolation.
Perhaps the lack of mental health check-in should come as no surprise when we see the results of a poll issued earlier in the month that identified…
Less than half of UK employers have a formal wellbeing strategy
Many firms are focusing on mental health, but experts urge businesses to take a more holistic look at how they support their workforces
Less than half (44 per cent) of UK employers have an overarching wellbeing strategy in place, research has found, raising concerns that, despite marked investment in health and benefits, employer activity in this area lacks strategic focus.
A poll of 332 HR professionals in the Aon 2021 UK Benefits and Trends Survey found that while the majority had formal strategies in place for specific needs such as mental and physical wellbeing (76 and 61 per cent respectively), there was a notable lack of an overarching, comprehensive strategy tying them together.
Moreover, a fifth (22 per cent) of those surveyed said they did not intend to devise a strategy within the next 12-18 months, while 70 per cent did not have a designated budget for health and wellness.
The survey found just 9 per cent of businesses were actively measuring their return on investment from their wellbeing programmes, despite it being a crucial way to assess and tailor them to their employees’ needs.
Past studies have found that a lack of data hinders organisations’ efforts to track and measure the effectiveness of their wellbeing initiatives.
At P3 Business Care we appreciate the need for feedback to our clients and provide quarterly reports clearly identifying the most pressing issues that we are supporting individual employees with.
About P3 Business Care
P3 Business Care is a Community Interest Company and social enterprise operating across the UK. Supporting your business on a weekly basis we provide personal and proactive care to your employees working in partnership with the company. We visit your business developing trust & relationships so we can identify and address issues before they become crisis, absence, or staff turnover. Read more about our services here