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You would have needed to be a contestant on “I’m a Celebrity…” to have missed the growth in media interest in health and wellbeing benefits, especially in relation to employees and their mental health.

Wellbeing is defined in the Collins English Dictionary as “The condition of being contented, healthy, or successful”, the Oxford Dictionary says, “The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy”. Therefore, it appears that Wellbeing relates to both physical health and a state of mind – contended, comfortable, happy.

In respect of employee wellbeing and mental health, recent reports such as “Thriving at Work” by Stevenson/Farmer published in October 2017 show that there are significant issues in the UK.

The Government sponsored review reports that:
• The annual cost to the UK economy of poor mental health is up to £99bn, of which about £42bn is borne by employers.

• About 300,000 people with a long-term mental health problem lose their jobs each year.

• The number of people forced to stop work as a result of mental health problems was 50% higher than for those with physical health conditions.

• About 15% of people at work have symptoms of an existing mental health condition.

As part of the review, evaluations of workplace interventions by Deloittes (Mental Health and Employers: The Case for Investment, October 2017) show a return to business of between £1.50 and £9 for every £1 invested in mental health strategy.

The Stevenson/Farmer report hasn’t taken health and wellbeing benefit providers by surprise.

For some time now there has been increased focus on mental health issues:

• Development of financial education programmes to equip employees with skills to help them understand personal money matters to reduce financial worries and stress.

• Mental health “first aid” training for employees – especially those in supervisory positions, so they are able to recognise issues in themselves and colleagues, and take appropriate action.

• Access to telephonic helplines and counselling services via Employee Assistance Programmes and Health Cash
Plans

• “Virtual GP” providing timely direct access to GP services without lengthy waiting times

• Access to early intervention/triage without GP referral under Private Medical Insurance

• Digital wellbeing tools empowering employees with the ability to assess and improve their wellbeing in real time.

All the above services can assist employers in supporting staff with their mental health and wellbeing.

Ed Watling, head of Mattioli Woods Health & Wellbeing Benefits commented:

“Wellbeing is now recognised as a key ingredient not only for personal happiness but also business productivity. Successful businesses will understand the direct link between employee wellbeing and bottom-line improvement. Investment in employee wellbeing should be high on any company’s priorities when looking at ways to increase productivity.”

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