Deloitte research reveals cumbersome and generic mental health offerings that hinder rather than helpby
A much needed shake-up in workplace mental health support is needed to improve the poorly thought out, generic solutions currently on offer for UK employees.
The negative effects of the pandemic have been crystal clear for businesses and employee mental health has been one of the areas hardest hit. In fact, Deloitte’s recent report found that in 2021, 28% of sick days were taken due to poor mental health, a clear indicator that employees need effective mental wellbeing initiatives to help offset the lingering effects of the lockdowns.
Yet, we’re still seeing many businesses ignoring the impact mental health can have on their teams. The research highlights that 52% of employees have admitted to not feeling supported, and almost one-third said they would either want, or even expect, more support from their employer.
It’s clearly time for change. To recover from poor employee mental health, businesses need to bring in technology that’s fit for purpose. If they don’t, they risk not only losing money, but also employees as a result.
A different kind of technology
In most cases, employees who are let down by existing, cumbersome HR initiatives – such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) or insurance – are the ones who need the most help. These generic services don’t take into account the different person’s experience, and so often are more of a hindrance than a help.
Employees should be greeted with an integrated network of support functions that enables them to choose the best type of treatment for their needs, on their terms
Additionally, when employees do come forward, they’re often referred to tech-based solutions. However, these often present employees with further barriers – clunky application downloads and websites can be difficult to navigate for instance. As a result, many give up before they’ve accessed the help they need.
HR teams must offer fully rounded mental health support, that goes above EAPs or insurance. This means no confusing application downloads and no need for direct contact with HR or management teams when looking for support.
Instead, employees should be greeted with an integrated network of support functions that enables them to choose the best type of treatment for their needs, on their terms. Not only does this increase confidence in helping employees reach out for help in the first place, but it keeps employees engaged for the whole course of their treatment, and enables them to access support as and when they need it.
Out with the old and in with the new
Businesses are struggling to overcome historic attitudes to mental health – for many years it was typically either kept quiet or dealt with by occupational health. And sadly, we're still seeing many businesses treat employee mental health as a tick box exercise. Mental health comes in many different forms and should never be treated with a one-size-fits-all approach.
But what most businesses fail to recognise is that poor mental health strategies not only risk bad employee health, but it also costs them financially. Deloitte’s new research confirms that the cost of bad mental health has increased to £56bn in 2020-21, compared to £45bn in 2019. This is for a number of reasons, including the cost of mental health tools which simply don’t work, employees needing mental health sabbaticals, and sick days being taken on mental health grounds.
Employees need an offering that's proactive, connecting employees to a range of quality, anonymous support programmes if initiatives are to truly be a success. This way, businesses can not only be sure that they are doing their part as a kind, positive employer, but also removing any unnecessary costs associated with poor employee mental health.
Technology has the power to act as an accelerator to break down stigma around mental health, but only if it is used correctly
The chance to make a change
Employee happiness is at the core of company culture. Businesses must take a stand to ensure they are investing time and money on resources to guarantee they are protecting the wellbeing of their workforce, at all costs.
Technology has the power to act as an accelerator to break down stigma around mental health, but only if it is used correctly. It has the potential to give those who access it real human care, as well as getting them back on track to be a productive and happy employee.
Interested in this topic? Read Mental Health: The importance of person-led support for serious conditions.