Only 32 per cent of employers say they make regular use of all the extra support within group risk products, according to new research undertaken by Group Risk Development (GRiD), among 500 HR decision makers across small, medium and large organisations. Others admitted to only using some of the support available, or using it fairly irregularly. Over one in ten organisations either did not use any of the additional support available via group risk products, or were completely unaware that any support existed at all.
The third Monday in January is often referred to as Blue Monday, with employees feeling the strains of an expensive Christmas, going back to work and with little on the horizon in terms of weather or holidays to boost morale. Family issues, always heightened at this time of year, and any underlying health problems also add to the mix, leaving many staff feeling gloomy and low. For an unfortunate few this can trigger more serious mental health problems or resurrect previous conditions.
GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness protection benefits), is urging employers to be vigilant to staff who may need extra help at this time, and also to encourage take-up of the support available via group risk products.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD said: “The support available via group risks products is wide ranging, from employee assistance programmes and fast-track access to counselling through to support for staff affected by a colleague’s stress. It can also include mental health first-aid training for managers to spot the signs of mental ill health and stress so they can be more effective in signposting staff to help.”
However, group risk support is not only there for times of need but preventative care is also available such as giving access to GP services and health tracking apps.
This support, both pre-emptive and responsive, is available at no extra charge and can be used every day if needed, even if a claim is never made.
Moxham continued: “We want HR Directors to re-look at their group risk purchase and see what hidden treasures are not being adequately shared with staff. Increasingly the support services are available to the entire workforce, not just the insured population, and there is also help for line managers and business owners as well, so it’s worth the effort.
“Although the term Blue Monday may somewhat trivialise real mental health issues, the day could serve as a good reminder to ensure group risk benefits and support are better communicated and well used.”