Flexible working and work-life balance initiatives are the most popular ways to support employees’ emotional wellbeing according to research amongst HR decision makers undertaken on behalf of Group Risk Development (Grid).
Of the 88 per cent of businesses that believe they have an emotional duty of care for their employees, the most popular method to support staff is via flexible or agile working, with 43 per cent claiming to offer this opportunity.
One in eight UK employers do not believe in supporting the emotional and social wellbeing of their staff, the research found.
Flexible working is often highly valued by staff but employers should not consider their ‘emotional support’ box ticked by offering this alone says Grid.
The second most common way to deliver emotional support is by offering work-life balance initiatives, such as encouraging staff to take their lunchbreak away from their desk and deterring a culture of working long or late.
The research highlighted the most prevalent methods that employers use to support their staff with emotional wellbeing as:
- Flexible working/agile working (43%)
- Work-life balance initiatives (33%)
- Ability to take days off to support mental health (31%)
- Arranging social events (31%)
- Access to professional support, such as counselling (27%)
- Stress management initiatives (19%)
- Mental health initiatives e.g. mindfulness training (18%)
- Specialist providers in place to provide support, such as counselling (18%)
- Mental health first aid training (15%)
Grid spokesperson Katharine Moxham says: “Group life assurance is the most popular group risk product with over 9.8 million people insured. As well as providing a financial pay-out, it can be hugely beneficial to staff as it often includes access to an employee assistance programme which will support staff with day-to-day emotional wellbeing and access to counselling, neither of which are claim-dependent. During 2019, there were 75,446 interactions with the additional help and support services that are funded by group risk insurers across employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness policies. Whilst this is an impressive number, given that the overall number of people covered by this industry exceeds 12.8 million, it’s clear that many more people could benefit from this emotional support.
“It’s vital that both employers and employees know they have access to this added-value support, as for many it really is an untapped resource that is not being used to its full potential.
“As for the 12 per cent of businesses that do not believe there is any requirement to support the emotional wellbeing of staff, they will certainly feel the consequences at some point, whether that be a higher-than-average absence rate, falling productivity, or lower staff retention. No forward-thinking organisation can afford to ignore the emotional wellbeing of its most valued asset.”
AIG Life managing director, group protection Lee Lovett says: “In an age when society is becoming so much more comfortable with talking about mental health, it’s great to see that a high proportion of businesses appreciate they have a duty of care towards their employees’ emotional wellbeing. What is perhaps surprising is one in nine businesses don’t believe people need support, and that giving time out to care for mental health is appreciated by only one in three employers, when recent research by AIG found one in six people have had to take career break to do so.
“Companies that don’t proactively support employees’ health and wellbeing could see their own productivity, as well as employees trust in them, suffer. That doesn’t need to happen –group protection providers give employers access to the tools to help support the varying needs of their employees.
“There are a wealth of support tools, for example counselling services linked to employee assistance programmes or through virtual wellbeing services. Promoting access to them so employees look after themselves when they really need it will not only help people get the support they need but make them feel more valued by the business”.