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Businesses risk losing top talent due to poor mental wellbeing support

21st December 2020 by Charlotte Walker

Almost half of UK businesses have seen an employee move on because their mental wellbeing wasn’t being looked after, with a quarter losing a key member of their workforce, according to new research from not-for-profit healthcare provider, Benenden Health.

The survey of UK employers and employees revealed that 42% of UK businesses have experience of an employee leaving their company because their mental wellbeing wasn’t cared for, with 25% saying they had lost a really valuable staff member, suggesting UK businesses could face a staff retention crisis as employees struggle with increasing mental health demands.

The research underlined the importance UK workers place on mental health provision in the workplace, with 55% of workers (17 million UK employees) saying they would seek a new job if their mental wellbeing was not being supported by their employer, increasing to 78% amongst 18-24 year olds. Some 57% of workers also said a supportive mental wellbeing policy would increase the likelihood of them joining a new company.

Benenden Health, which has launched a new report looking at the impact of poor mental wellbeing on the country’s workforce, asked employees of UK businesses to consider the impact of their mental wellbeing throughout their working life, rather than solely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Younger workers were revealed to value mental wellbeing support the most, with a whopping 78% of 18-24 year olds saying they would quit their job if they felt their employer was not adequately addressing their mental wellbeing needs, compared to 42% of 45-54 year olds and 38% of over 55s.

With almost half of all workers (46%) saying their job had become more stressful in the last two years, Benenden Health is encouraging businesses to engage with their employees to understand their mental wellbeing requirements. This could ultimately prevent them from leaving the business, saving on training and recruitment costs and preserving a strong workforce.

The research also highlighted a disparity between how employers’ priorities are perceived. Only a third (36%) of workers believe that the mental wellbeing of employees is a big priority for their employer and that the business genuinely cares about the issue, whereas six in ten (58%) employers say they genuinely care about the mental wellbeing of their employees.

Yet only 53% of employers said that they have asked employees what they would like to see from the company in terms of mental wellbeing support, with this lack of communication impacting on the necessary and appropriate provision of resources.

Bob Andrews, CEO at Benenden Health, said: “It is concerning that employers have reported losing good staff due to poor mental wellbeing provision, something that employees clearly consider important, and which could be creating a perfect storm for UK businesses.

“The data highlights a missed opportunity for companies to listen to their employees and promote good mental wellbeing within their organisation, as this can have a real positive effect not only on the health of employees but also on absence rates, productivity, recruitment and retention.

“Businesses who do not take an interest in strengthening their mental wellbeing provision also risk missing the opportunity to access a talent pool that would be loyal to a company that prioritises positive mental wellbeing.

“It’s important that employers don’t just talk the talk when it comes to mental wellbeing, but also put things into practice to support their staff. It’s not too late though. I hope these findings will encourage businesses to think again about how they approach wellbeing within their organisation and make their workplace an even better place to be.”

When asked what they would value most from their employer to improve their mental wellbeing, employees revealed that they would like free counselling (46%), mental health sick leave (45%), regular reviews of workload (41%) and a confidential mental wellbeing helpline (35%). Three quarters of employees also revealed that they believe all businesses should provide mental health and wellbeing training to line managers.

Benenden Health enables businesses to offer affordable, high quality, private healthcare to every employee. This includes round the clock care such as 24/7 GP and Mental Health helplines, plus access to services such as Physiotherapy and Medical Treatment so employees can have peace of mind that they can ask for help whenever they need it. As a not-for-profit organisation, Benenden Health offers support to its 800,000+ members. 

For more information about Benenden Health and to download its new report ‘The elephant that never left the office: Why stigma is still preventing employees from telling their boss the truth about their mental wellbeing in the workplace’.