New research finds that many employers have made an effort to support their staff’s health during this pandemic, with almost two-thirds increasing wellbeing provisions over the last year.
Research from GRiD, industry body for the group risk protection sector, highlights that almost two-thirds of employers (63 per cent) report increasing wellbeing support provided to staff during COVID-19.
Half of companies stated that they increased the communications around support available to staff. A further two-fifths of businesses (44 per cent) also invested more time in helping employees directly.
Another common approach taken was to implement changes that workers wanted to see – with over a third (38 per cent) extending their wellbeing support to reflect these requests.
Focussing on reward and benefits was also what many employers chose to hone in on. A third (32 per cent) said that they extended wellbeing support to employees’ families whilst a quarter (25 per cent) invested in new employee benefits to provide extra help.
GRiD recommended that, before adding new benefits and support, HR teams should be careful to investigate whether this support is already available under existing employee benefits and whether this is being under-utilised.
Additionally, it calls for health and wellbeing benefits to be regularly updated and enhanced during the pandemic, reflecting the changing needs of employees as this difficult period continues.
GRiD also found which areas of wellbeing employers feel are most important. Mental health of staff ranked first and was followed by physical health. Financial wellbeing came third whilst social wellbeing ranked last.
Almost half of employers (48 per cent) stated that they feel more responsibility for the mental health of staff now than they did before the pandemic. This has ultimately led to half of employers (50 per cent) increasing the health and wellbeing support or employee benefits that they offer staff specifically for mental health.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said:
It’s great to see that employers are stepping up to the plate: not only do the majority understand that they have a great responsibility for the wellbeing of staff but many are also implementing practical changes to make a tangible difference.
However, we urge the remaining businesses who have either not made any changes or who have decreased support to take stock. Employees have long memories and their loyalty can be quickly won or lost during times of adversity so all employers should be playing their part in supporting staff wellbeing.
Ms. Moxham continued:
The surge in mental health issues among employees needs to be met with a similar increase in resources from employers. And not only does a workplace mental health strategy need to support those experiencing severe issues, it also needs to help employees deal with personal problems that may lead to mental health issues in the future, such as relationship issues, dealing with eldercare, separation, loss, abuse, violence and addiction.
*The research was undertaken by Opinium during January 2021 among 505 HR decision makers at UK businesses.