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Mental health: Geometry of the Soul series two. Arrangement of human profile and abstract elements on the subject of spirituality, science, creativity and human mind
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Why HR leaders should consider mental health when allocating their budgets for 2022

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With 2022 set to be a year of economic growth within the UK, Gill Tanner explains why, for HR leaders, allocating more of their budget for mental health support and training will not only benefit their employees, but also lead to fiscal returns on their investments.

14th Feb 2022
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2022 is forecast to be a year of business growth, with the UK’s economic growth expected to be the highest in the G7, expanding by 6.9%. This influx of capital is a great opportunity for HR leaders to review and enhance their people programmes. 

Indeed, 92% of learning and development leaders foresee increased training and development budgets in the new year, which provides scope for businesses to really support their people in their development.

Increased budgets do not necessarily mean improved outcomes however. It is often difficult to see the return on the investment of formal learning and development programmes, with only 12% of employees reported to apply skills learned in these programmes to their jobs. 

It is important that leaders do not waste the opportunity of increasing budgets, and evaluate the best possible methods of learning and development delivery for the results they are seeking to achieve.

Targeting employees’ changing needs

In the last 18 months we have seen numerous changes to the world of work, be that increased remote working, adapting to the use of digital technologies, or the difficulties employees have experienced with their wellbeing

Learning and development experts would be wise to ensure that they can adapt their offerings to cater for employees’ shifting needs and priorities. 

The 70/20/10 approach – a model that lays out the most successful approach to learning and development – highlights the value of personalisation. The approach states that employees acquire 70% of knowledge from job-related experiences, 20% from interactions with others, and 10% from formal educational events. 

The 70/20/10 model is considered to be the best way to maximise learning, as it prioritises highly specific learning and development activities that differ from employee to employee. 

85% of learning and development leaders expect their businesses to grow in 2022.

Despite the low value of formal educational events expressed in the model, uniform and formalised approaches to development remain popular, with a majority (67%) of learning and development leaders continuing to prioritise e-learning over more individualised approaches such as coaching or mentoring. 

In other cases, uncertainty due to the pandemic has meant that learning and development activities in some organisations have been put on hold or cancelled altogether, which is having a damaging effect on people and businesses. 

Since a majority (85%) of learning and development leaders expect their businesses to grow in 2022, now is the time to consider how the extra budget can be spent in a way that fulfils employee needs and benefits the wider organisation. HR leaders are beginning to review their policies and practices, but this should certainly accelerate in 2022.

Building a strong strategy to support wellbeing

A key area of focus for spending in the new year is supporting employee wellbeing. At present, 70% of employees are struggling with either burnout or wellbeing, so this should clearly be an area of concern for HR leaders. 

There are huge gains for organisations if they address these issues, and offer mental health and wellbeing support to their employees. 

When people are struggling with anxiety and self-doubt, they do not perform at their best and they certainly do not unleash their full potential. 

The estimated cost of depression and anxiety to the global economy is $1tn per year in lost productivity, meaning that a lack of mental health support in the workplace not only impacts workplace culture and productivity, but also has a specific, measured, economic impact. 

employers who implement mental health support will inevitably see a strong return on their investment in employee wellbeing. 

As HR budgets increase, employers who implement mental health support will inevitably see a strong return on their investment in employee wellbeing. 

Additionally, leaders are not always aware of mental health problems or are not sure how to deal with them, and this starts to affect the all-important manager-employee relationship. 

HR leaders therefore, not only need to focus on supporting employee wellbeing, but also on offering dedicated training to managers and executives in understanding and accommodating mental health concerns. 

Wellbeing support is without a doubt a priority for 2022 when it comes to budget allocation.

Towards a personalised approach

Employee programmes are often most effective when they can be tailored to the individual. 

When implementing uniform, monolithic programmes it is easy to demonstrate that the box has been ticked – but are they adding true value? Whilst such an individualistic approach is not always feasible, it is worth considering the areas where it may be possible, e.g. wellbeing and development. 

A tailored programme to meet individual needs is the gold standard and employers who do this will be the ones employees want to work for

This is especially pertinent as we move through the pandemic and continue to maintain a hybrid approach to the workplace, where the traditional forms of learning and development are no longer appropriate for the contemporary work environment.

Employees will always have a range of needs depending on their job role and personal circumstances; what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. A tailored programme to meet individual needs is the gold standard and employers who do this will be the ones employees want to work for – a win/win outcome.

 

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