A recent YouGov poll showed that staff well-being is falling down the list of priorities for employers, with statistics showing:
- only a third of employers see improving staff morale as their responsibility;
- one in four employers spend nothing on employee well-being or mental health;
- 58% spend less than £100 per employee on well-being a year.
The survey of 1009 British companies and 2009 staff, was conducted last December and revealed that most employers saw attracting and retaining talent, and improving productivity, as their main priority.
Since the pandemic, most staff said they had returned to normal working practices, with fewer than half reporting that they still had the option of flexible working, including being able to work from home and to choose when they work.
Only 2% of employees said they felt confident about going to their boss if they had a problem in their personal life or with their finances, whilst only 1% would talk to a work colleague. More people said they would research their issue online before going to their line manager with an issue.
The survey followed a publication by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which showed worrying levels of in-work poverty. It said employers should be doing more to ease the pressure on staff facing financial difficulties, including offering flexible working and more secure shifts, creating a compassionate workplace culture, and signposting employees to specialist support. Employers who don’t invest in employee wellbeing may be missing out on the productivity benefits it can provide.
The survey showed that the size of businesses, where they are in the country, and what sector they are in, determined how much, if any, support employers provided. Age also played a part, with demand for support with the cost of living most marked among young employees.
While the demand for mental health and well-being services among staff was high, particularly for stress and anxiety and the cost-of-living crisis, a significant number of workers said they received little or no support from bosses, or the services that were provided were not always of value to them.
By listening to, and understanding what employees need, companies can start to build stronger, more empathetic and productive work environments. Access to well-being support should not be a lottery or a privilege.