How Well Are Businesses Adapting Their Approach to Employee Healthcare in a Post Pandemic Era?
As a PR business in the health and wellness sector, we understand all too well that while many companies offer a host of workplace wellness initiatives including health insurance to employees, there are a host of challenges and adaptations they have been forced to consider given the issues we are all currently facing as the pandemic has re-shaped our working lives.
Whether work is causing the health issue or aggravating it, research shows that over half of employees express higher expectations for mental health support from their employer than before the pandemic, highlighting the need for businesses to go beyond the basic ‘Duty of Care’. This is particularly true in a climate where 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK are attributed to mental health conditions.
One of the biggest issues for employees is that while some insurance companies include mental healthcare, in many policies this inclusion is not standard and you’ll need to add it to your employee policy at a significant cost to the business. Data on mental health in the workplace is correlating to the increase in patients paying for private healthcare to avoid long NHS waiting times – a figure that has jumped almost 40% since before the pandemic, according to PHIN.
One of our clients, Aurora Wellness, who provide businesses with the tools and resources to maintain productivity through management of mental health training programmes, feel strongly that private healthcare packages offered as part of the remuneration package should include mental health as a must have, not a nice to have or add on.
“The pool table and free massage approach to wellness are lovely incentives to offer to employees but they shouldn’t be replacing preventative policies or dedicated mental health stewards to enhance and maintain business performance metrics” says Ngozi Weller, co-Founder of Aurora Wellness. She continues, “more robust policies are statistically better for business performance and staff retention and productivity – this affects the bottom line”.
Things are on the move in the right direction says Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr James Woolley, Schoen Clinic UK, regarded as a world leader in treating anxiety and mood disorders, who explained that he first began to see an increase in people coming to him with workplace related mental health issues on a self-referral basis prior to the pandemic, but he is now seeing more of a partnership approach between the employer and employee when it comes to mental health.
Discussing whether it is ultimately a manager’s role to manage productivity in a company, he said: “Any good manager will see the link between productivity and the mental health of the workforce and will also keep an eye on that and put reasonable accommodations in place.” He goes on to say that the kinds of issues that have an impact on productivity are things like absenteeism and even presenteeism where people turn up for work despite how they are feeling resulting in poorer productivity.
Reacting to the worrying rise in mental health disorders in the workplace, Schoen Clinic UK offer bespoke workplace wellbeing support services to businesses to keep employees productive and healthy. They also combine 24-hour mental health support with the benefits of the Employee Assistance Programme include reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, boosting productivity and staff retention rates.
Dr James Woolley adds, “at Schoen, we use a mixture of one-to-one therapy, group therapies and intensive day treatment programmes, which we’ve found helps staff experiencing stress and burnout back on their feet faster.
“In turn, this can save businesses money in the long run with less absence and sick leave days taken, and better staff retention rates. We know that the right mental health support and a fast resolution of issues can lead to a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.”