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      Mental wellbeing ‘biggest health challenge facing businesses’

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      Almost half of employers (49%) say that mental health is the biggest health and wellbeing challenge facing businesses.

      That’s according to research from Towergate Health & Protection, which says the majority of organisations proactively make provisions to support the mental wellbeing of their employees.

      72% offer mental health training for staff, and 76% offer access to an employee assistance programme (EAP).

      However, only 10% of respondents said that they felt employees valued their EAP service and only 5% said that staff actually use it.

      Towergate says this could be connected to how well employee benefits are communicated. The second most pressing challenge for employers is cited as engaging and communicating with staff about their health and wellbeing benefits, an issue for 15% of companies.

      For 90% of respondents, communicating benefits is the responsibility of the HR team, while only 18% use an internal marketing or communications department.

      Towergate says for health and wellbeing benefits to be valued and utilised, they need to be understood, and this means having a clear communications plan. This needs to include regular communications, and using a mix of communication methods. If benefits aren’t clearly and regularly communicated, employees are less likely to be aware of them, less likely to understand them, and less likely to utilise them.

      Brett Hill, distribution director for Towergate Health & Protection said: “There’s clearly a disconnect between what employers are doing to support the mental wellbeing of their staff and what support employees are aware of.

      “If companies want their work in supporting mental wellbeing to really make a difference, ie for employees to be aware of that help, to understand what it entails, value it, use it, and get support when they need it, communication needs to take centre stage.

      “The good news is, support in this task is available for employers. Providers and advisers are on hand to help, and we’d urge companies to make the most of that.”

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      Stuart O'Brien

      All stories by: Stuart O'Brien