Employers are introducing mental wellbeing help during the pandemic
Over six months have passed since the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a pandemic. For most of us, our lives have changed completely, as we face new challenges we probably never thought we’d see in our lifetime.
I recently wrote about the looming mental health crisis we are facing in the UK and across the world as workers report more anxiety and stress. Without crucial mental health and wellbeing support, the alarming rates of depression and mental wellbeing issues we are experiencing globally have little chance of improving.
Despite the daily struggles of the ongoing health and economic crisis, a positive element has emerged from it too: more and more employers are introducing mental wellbeing initiatives for their staff, and I am certain they will be here to stay.
UK employers are ahead of the pack when it comes to mental health
It is encouraging that one recent global study has found that among employers across the world, UK executives are leading the charge when it comes to looking after their employees’ mental health.
A recent survey conducted by PwC found that 90% of British business leaders are providing wellbeing programs for their staff, compared to 61% of CEOs globally. The survey of 3,500 partner firms revealed that UK chief executives were “ahead of the pack” compared to their global counterparts, Financial News reported.
“We have a challenging road to recovery, and few businesses can survive without a healthy and motivated workforce. While there are many difficult decisions for business to make in the short and medium term, it’s critical we continue to invest in health and wellbeing to protect the workforce of the future,” the PwC survey said.
…but more needs to be done
By contrast, a YouGov survey of more than 3,600 employees commissioned by Business in the Community (BITC) and Bupa UK revealed that only 37% of staff felt that executives and boards took their mental health into consideration.
Because of these findings, they are both are urging workplaces to increase mental health support for their staff. Mark Allan, Bupa’s commercial director for UK insurance, said that “organisations need to urgently address the gaps, relieve the pressure and have wellbeing strategies, preventative care and mental health support in place for employees.”
Similar results were revealed by a survey of 1,500 workers in the UK conducted in September by mental health organisation TalkOut. This study found that 56% of employees hadn’t received any mental health advice or support from their employer since the beginning of the pandemic, People Management reported.
Mental health of employees can’t wait
Jill Mead, CEO of mental health organisation TalkOut, commented that “if there’s one thing this crisis has made clear, it’s that there is still a long way to go when it comes to providing effective support to employees.”
Mead admitted that for employers, introducing initiatives to support a positive wellbeing culture in the workplace “may seem like a daunting task,” but that there are a number of “immediate actions businesses can take to improve staff health and wellbeing.”
The TalkOut CEO listed regular communication to see how people are doing, creating safe spaces for people to talk openly, providing mental health training, and pinpointing employees to useful resources as the most important steps for employers to take to ensure their staff feel adequately supported.
“A positive and supportive workplace can make all the difference when it comes to mental health and now more than ever, businesses have a duty of care to their workforce. In time, Britain will come to review its response to the Coronavirus pandemic, but mental health can’t wait.”
Small businesses can offer wellbeing support too
Although larger businesses and organisations may have the benefit of an HR department and a wider range of support services, small businesses actually have an advantage when it comes to supporting employees, the managing director of RedArc, Christine Husbands, has said.
“Management and colleagues in smaller firms may have a closer relationship with their staff than is sometimes possible in a larger, more anonymous, place of work, which means they could be more able to spot when someone is struggling.
“A one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t work, and smaller employers are likely to have a good idea about how Covid-19 has affected individuals.”
That is why having someone within the company management team who can support employees wellbeing on a personal and individual level is such a great benefit.
The benefit is the same for a small company or a large organisation and where a Wellbeing Coach fits in so well.
There has never been a more important time to become a wellbeing coach
Looking at the results of the above surveys, it is clear that although some gains have been made in the workplace mental health space, there is still a long way to go until all employees feel they are receiving adequate wellbeing support from their employers.
The evidence is in: across all industries, more leaders need to prioritise creating a positive wellbeing culture in their businesses and organisations, especially as the pandemic continues to take its toll on mental health.
Another important element that features in most of the above analysis and recommendations is the need for employees to have access to wellbeing coaching and support services. The role of a wellbeing coach is to re-motivate, re-inspire, re-energise, and help people achieve more out of life, which is exactly why their skills and expertise are becoming increasingly sought-after during these difficult times.
By skillfully listening, questioning, reflecting, encouraging, challenging, and supporting an individual, a wellbeing coach guides them to look to the future by helping them design and execute their own solutions to their problems and challenges.
As more companies realise that employee wellbeing is integral to an ongoing successful business, I strongly believe that there has never been a more important time to become a wellbeing coach.