Nearly half of employees did not receive any wellbeing check-ins from their employer last year, research has revealed, leading to calls for firms to do more to listen to and support their staff.
In a poll of 2,000 workers, conducted by Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA), 48 per cent said their workplace had not checked in on their mental health in the past year, up from 25 per cent in 2021.
Only a third (27 per cent) said they had received a wellbeing check from their employer at least monthly, less than half the numbers who reported the same last year (60 per cent).
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Rachel Suff, senior employment relations adviser at the CIPD, said it was “disappointing” that so many organisations did not appear to be regularly checking in with their staff about their wellbeing.
“Managers need to make sure they are setting aside time to check in with their team and ask about their wellbeing, while HR also need to make sure senior leaders view health and wellbeing as priority and they create a culture where people feel able to talk about any issues they’re having,” she said.
MHFA England also called on employers to increase support for employees and revisit their policies to help fuel productivity, reduce sick days, increase retention and attract new talent.
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“If we get the basics right, we can build workplaces where wellbeing and productivity fuel each other,” said Simon Blake, chief executive of MHFA England. “That is why we are encouraging all employers to adopt wellbeing check-ins as part of a comprehensive strategy.”
This was echoed by Paul Feeney, chief executive of Quilter who cautioned that as the country emerges from coronavirus restrictions and many people return to the office, “we must not forget many people will be feeling the impact of the past two years”.
“We cannot expect an immediate mental health rebound and must ensure employees arrive at work feeling supported and listened to,” he said, adding that employers played a “vital role” in creating supportive and safe workplace cultures.
The MHFA survey did find some improvements since the pandemic. Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of employees said they felt they could always bring their whole self to work, up from 16 per cent before the pandemic, while a third of employees (32 per cent) said they were more comfortable discussing their mental health since the pandemic.
However, while 39 per cent of employers felt fully flexible working would support the mental health of their staff, just 20 per cent said this was currently at offer in their workplace.
Nearly half (47 per cent) of employees felt most comfortable talking about their mental health face-to-face, with just 13 per cent saying they preferred to discuss such things remotely over Zoom, phone or via WhatsApp.
Louise Aston, wellbeing director at Business in the Community (BITC) said the onus was on employers to demonstrate they genuinely care about wellbeing.
They could do this “by regularly listening to their people and providing tailored, personalised solutions that take an equitable and inclusive approach to protecting and enhancing the wellbeing of everyone”, she said.