The ever-changing challenge for employers in supporting and improving workplace wellbeing

In 2018 we visited Mind’s latest results regarding the Workplace Wellbeing Index. The results showed that 44,000 (48%) of the staff surveyed had experienced poor mental health with their current employer, and that only 10,554 chose to tell their employer about it.

In this article, we take a look at Mind’s most recent results (2020/2021) to see how they compare, highlight the impact that these findings may have on businesses, and outline key ways businesses can encourage employees to communicate with them.

Most successful business owners and managers understand that their employees are a valuable asset, and that keeping employees engaged is crucial. People’s relationship with their work is changing, from creating a more meaningful relationship with their job to understanding the value a new role will offer to both the professional and personal goals. In order to support this progression, it’s important that employers actively listen to what their employees need, and a key way to do this is to focus on their well-being.

However, despite many employers taking sufficient steps to support employee’s wellbeing, the most recent statistics are showing that perhaps employers are not doing enough, with nearly one in five (19%) of SME business owners and managers not currently doing anything to improve employee health and wellbeing.

Additionally, the 2020/2021 report from mental health charity, Mind, showed that 58% of the 42,036 surveyed employees have experienced poor mental health at work, but only 55% reported it to their employer. Many people with mental health issues like stress, anxiety, and depression feel compelled to stay quiet due to discomfort with disclosure, fear of job insecurity, and concern about being discriminated against.

So, how can employers support the well-being of their staff if they feel uncomfortable about disclosing their feelings?

With only 40% of responses feeling that their employer had developed the necessary skills to support them with their mental health, it is unsurprising that many employees feel that they cannot open up to their line manager or employer. In order to support staff in situations of poor mental health and send a clear signal to them that their mental health matters and will be supported, not discriminated against, employers and managers can:

  • Create a clear mental health strategy and specific policies to ensure employees experiencing mental health problems get the support they need straight away.
  • Routinely ask staff how they are doing and discuss their mental health.
  • Remember that sometimes people feel uncomfortable talking about their mental health, and if this is the case and you suspect they are struggling, it is ok to lead and raise it with them.

What impact may these findings have on employers?

Many businesses are currently creating clearer, proactive and inclusive workplaces where employees feel encouraged to share their feelings, with more than 77 per cent of employees feeling their employer encourages openness and discussion about mental health and 85 per cent reporting that their employer runs initiatives to raise awareness of mental health. Although, it is still clear from the data that whilst many employees experience poor mental health at work, many business owners are unsure of how best to support these employees – perhaps they lack the relevant resources or funding to manage wellbeing appropriately. Fear of extortionate costs facing businesses already, to then add the extra costs of wellbeing support is putting some owners and managers off the idea.

There are a growing number of organisations, charities and specialists that are creating effective wellbeing strategies. It is important to know that in total, better wellbeing support can save businesses up to £8 billion annually, with the promotion of wellbeing support at work through personalised information, advice, questionnaires, seminars, workshops, and web-based materials costing employers on average of £80 per employee per year. An initial expenditure of £40,000 on these resources is expected to provide a net return of £347,722 in savings for a firm with 500 workers – where all these employees undergo support. The savings are mainly a result of reduced presenteeism (lost productivity that occurs due to an employee working while ill) and absenteeism (missing work due to ill health).

Businesses should be considering the benefits of introducing structured wellbeing support, if they have not done so already, and will hopefully come to realise that whilst the initial outset may seem expensive, the long-term advantages of supporting staff will significantly outweigh the costs.

Within Price Bailey we know that wellbeing is vital for everyone, and as part of our firm wide ‘Wellbeing Agenda’, which focuses on 7 core areas of wellbeing, we also have ‘Wellbeing and Mental Health Ambassadors’ trained through Mental Health First Aid for England (MHFA). We have given significant attention to workplace wellness, including areas such as work flexibility, work-life harmony, and overall satisfaction in the workplace. This encompasses more than just addressing mental health, which is a critical aspect in itself. Our goal is to strike a balance between employee wellbeing, where staff feel satisfied in a supportive and positive setting, and organisational wellbeing, ensuring that we do not lose sight of business growth and broader business objectives. By finding this balance, we can foster a thriving business with happy and fulfilled employees.

At Price Bailey, our HR and Employment Law team has long-standing experience supporting and advising clients on implementing a variety of business strategies, including a wellbeing strategies. You can contact a member of the HR and Employment Law team below.




We always recommend that you seek advice from a suitably qualified adviser before taking any action. The information in this article only serves as a guide and no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of this material can be accepted by the authors or the firm.

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