Mental health in the workplace is the top priority for almost three in five (60 per cent) CEOs in the UK, according to new research.
The 2018 annual report, Employee Wellbeing Research 2018 from the Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) in association with Punter Southall Health & Protection, found that 16 per cent of employers have put in place a mental health strategy, while over a third plan to introduce one in the next 12 months.
This suggests that by the early 2020s more than three-quarters of UK companies will have a defined mental health strategy.
For many employees, the key drivers of wellbeing strategies are to improve engagement and culture, with 30 per cent saying wellbeing strategies are primarily driven by a desire to increase employee engagement and 23 per cent to improve organisational culture.
“Whereas in previous years, few talked openly about mental health, it is now the top concern of UK employers. There is also a clear recognition that high pressured working environments put employees’ physical and mental health at risk,” said John Dean, CEO at Punter Southall Health & Protection.
“While there is a positive increase in companies adopting wellbeing programmes year on year, few strategies are being driven by the Board and this is concerning. For wellbeing programmes to succeed, it is essential they are integrated into the business strategy and prioritised by the board.”
The study also found that 73 per cent of respondents said that high pressure working environments are now the biggest threat to wellbeing and are concerned about the negative impact on their employees.
Other fears include employees’ physical inactivity (55 per cent) and managing the wellbeing of an ageing workforce (36 per cent).
Debi O’Donovan, director at the Reward & Employee Benefits Association, added: “In a world of rapid change impacting the way we work and the skills employees need, a focus on resilience and wellbeing is a vital strategy for employers which want to run successful organisations. So, since our first research into employee wellbeing in 2016, it is encouraging to see the appetite for implementing effective wellbeing strategies continue to grow.
“The national focus on mental health is reflected in the survey results. Ensuring that the mental wellbeing of employees is safeguarded must be a priority and it is encouraging to see that over 80 per cent of respondents highlighted this as an area that they will focus on. However, we would like to see stronger leadership come from boards, because where we see wellbeing led from the top we also see the most impressive results for both employees and their organisations.”