Nine in 10 employers think staff need more wellbeing support post-covid, poll finds

Firms are being urged to provide training to help managers better support mental health and to regularly check in with their staff

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Nine in ten employers believe that their staff need more wellbeing support since the pandemic, a study has found.

The poll of 500 HR decision makers, conducted by Towergate Health and Protection, found 86 per cent believed their staff require more health and wellbeing support.

Of those surveyed, two fifths (40 per cent) were found to be concerned about the mental health of staff since the pandemic, while 53 per cent said their staff would like more of this kind of support.

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A fifth (22 per cent) said they were worried about the physical health of staff amid ongoing difficulty getting GP appointments and delays in being diagnosed and treated for serious conditions, with 36 per cent reporting that employees wanted more help with this post-pandemic.

The poll also found one in 10 (13 per cent) were concerned about the social health of their staff, for instance increased isolation.

Brett Hill, head of distribution for Towergate Health and Protection said: “Employers need to re-evaluate their health and wellbeing support in the wake of Covid. Working practices have changed and so have attitudes and expectations.

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“It is important for any health and wellbeing programme to recognise the changing needs of employers and to be adaptable as we adjust to life post-pandemic,” he added.

Louise Aston, wellbeing director at Business in the Community said employees had become “more discerning and aspirational” when it came to ways of working, and that finding an employer that was supportive of mental health and wellbeing was not “essential”.

She urged employers to train their managers on how to empathise and support their teams, and suggested organisations run regular mental health-check-ins or set up team away days. “Employees aren’t asking anything unrealistic. It’s that mental health and wellbeing are vital to our happiness and jobs can play a huge part of that,” Aston said.

“It’s up to employers to step up and offer jobs that are beneficial and help workers manage stress and their busy lives. But what works for one person won't be ideal for another, which is why employers need to reassess their policies and make wellbeing into all decision making,” she said.

Larger employers with more than 250 employees were more likely to say they were concerned about the mental health of their staff than SMEs (49 per cent and 37 per cent respectively). Similarly, 74 per cent of large corporations said employees would like more mental health support than previously, compared to less than half (46 per cent) of SMEs. 

The research, conducted in January and February, also found that 17 per cent of respondents were concerned for the financial health of employees since the pandemic, with over a third (36 per cent) saying their staff now want more support for this.

Hill acknowledged that the pandemic had created a lot of challenges for businesses and their workforces. But, he said: “Now is a good time for employers to look at solutions available for them to help their staff.”