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Employers should address rising stress and mental health risk through collaboration between internal departments and insurance providers. A dedicated employee risk manager is part of the solution, argues Andrew Woolnough, value propositions director at Willis Employee Benefits.
You would not cross the road without looking both ways, so why are employers and insurers of risk and staff benefits so blinkered when it comes to mitigating mental health and stress risk? Cross-functional teamwork is key.
Employee stress and mental ill-health issues are still on the rise. This is evidenced by a myriad of absence-related industry surveys, not to mention an increasing number of employers’ liability (EL) claims.
Various business functions, including HR, risk, payroll, and health and safety, are doing their best to tackle the problem but, arguably, they are failing to see the full picture. True change, efficiencies and gains can only be made by joining up interdepartmental and insurer data, findings, interventions and preventions. This has proven a challenge too far to date.
Two-thirds of employers in the UK identify stress as the top workforce health risk issue, according to the Willis Towers Watson "[email protected]" report 2015/16, a global study of employers’ health and productivity strategies. Many employers are taking steps to address this, but often without success. For example, two-fifths of employers reported an increase in stress-related absence and mental health problems in their organisation over the past year, according to the findings of the CIPD’s "Absence management survey 2015".
This failure to nip the problem in the bud can lead to an all-too-familiar corporate endemic, characterised by employee disengagement, presenteeism, reduced productivity, short-term absence leading to long-term absence, an i