Employees fear they may suffer career repercussions and judgement from colleagues if they access health and wellbeing resources provided by their employer, research has shown.
The survey by health benefits provider Aetna International found that 27% were worried about HR or managers finding out about the state of their mental health if they used corporate wellbeing services.
Worries about the potential impact on their career progression prevented 29% from accessing health and wellbeing benefits, while 20% were concerned about how colleagues would perceive them.
Aetna International CEO for Europe, David Healy, said: “These findings suggest that a significant minority of employees may try to cope alone when facing mental or physical health challenges. Sadly stigma, particularly around mental health, means some employees still believe they could face repercussions if they reveal they are struggling, which should never be the case in any workplace.”
Health and wellbeing benefits
Asked what might encourage them to use the wellbeing services their employer offered, 48% said they wanted to be properly introduced to them; 45% wanted training on how to access and use available support; and 35% felt they would use them more if leaders communicated about them.
Thirty-six per cent would feel more comfortable using support if they knew colleagues were using the services too and 31% said they needed reassurance that they would not be penalised.
In order to better support employees’ mental health more generally, 42% would like to see training for management on employee wellbeing and 31% felt their employer could help to destigmatise mental health issues by discussing them more openly.
Aetna International recommended that employers:
- Offered staff a structured introduction to available support, including training
- Encouraged more open conversations around health and wellbeing and where to access support
- Considered how support could be tailored to individual needs
- Be clear about privacy and inform staff about what information is available to others about the use of benefits.
The research involved 3,520 workers across four countries: the UK, US, UAE and Singapore.