UK employers leading the way in offering mental health support

UK employers are more likely to offer mental health support to their staff than their counterparts around the globe, according to a survey by Deloitte.

A survey of 202 UK employers, conducted as part of Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report, found that more than a third (36%) offered mental health counselling to their staff. This compared to 21% of organisations worldwide.

Almost nine in 10 (88%) of the UK businesses offered wellness and work-life balance programmes to their employees, compared with a global average of 82%. However, Deloitte found that three in five (59%) offered only limited wellbeing programmes, which it said were typically focused on adjusted working patterns or time off in exceptional circumstances.

Only a third (36%) offered wellbeing programmes that Deloitte considered “beyond the traditional”, including mindfulness, work-life balance and financial fitness. However, by comparison, these were offered by only a quarter of organisations worldwide.

Anne-Marie Malley, UK human capital leader at Deloitte, commented: “It’s positive to see that many UK businesses are taking steps to champion mental health in the workplace, but it’s clear that more still needs to be done. Offering mental health support to employees not only helps British workers to thrive but also makes good business sense and supports the wider economy.”

According to a separate study by the Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) and Punter Southall Health & Protection last month , nearly two-thirds (60%) of UK chief executives saw the mental health of their employees as a priority, but only 16% had a defined strategy in place to help them.

Furthermore, the number of fit notes issued by GPs for mental health issues increased by 13.5% between July and September 2017.

Malley said many organisations wanted to invest in employee wellbeing strategies, but often did not know where to begin. “Bridging the gap between awareness and action requires businesses to make wellbeing a priority at the most senior management levels.

“After this, an adequate review of organisational needs, understanding what is best practice and targeting interventions to the needs of those in the organisation will be key drivers of success.”

Flexible working was one of the most popular wellbeing benefits offered by UK employers. Six in 10 (59%) had a flexible working programme in place, and 92% of those believed it had a valuable impact on the wellbeing of their staff.

Employee assistance programmes, which provide support with personal or work-related concerns, were offered by half of organisations (compared to 30% across the rest of the world).

Globally, 86% of employees said they valued having a flexible schedule, but this was only offered by 50% of employers internationally.

Working from home was seen as important by 70% of employees, but just 27% of organisations worldwide gave their staff the opportunity to do so.

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