We launched our ‘Big Return’ report to understand the impact of COVID on employees across the UK workforce. From surveying 2,000 of those who have been working from home during the pandemic, we found that almost half of the UK’s workforce is not ready to return to work, with many being anxious or deeply concerned.
Our survey revealed that 45% described their feelings about the return to work negatively. Deepening the crisis, only 5% of employers have put in extra employee support services for those returning to a more normal work pattern.
Challenges facing businesses are compounded by the fact that not all staff are comfortable raising health concerns with their line managers. Almost one-third (30%) confirmed they would not feel comfortable discussing any mental health, physical health, grief or financial concerns with their line manager.
The evidence suggests there is a need for businesses to check in on their current provision of support. If companies do have support in place, the results show that not all employees are using it or feel comfortable opening up about their struggles.
Our chief medical officer at BHSF OH, Dr Rohit S. Prajapati shares thoughts on how to inform employers about the choices available.
Dr Rohit S. Prajapati, chief medical officer at BHSF OH:
“The evidence suggests there is a need for businesses to check in on their current provision of support. If companies do have support in place, the results show that not all employees are using it or feel comfortable opening up about their struggles.
Employers need informing about the choices available so they can put confidential, accredited care in place to support their teams through this mental health emergency.”
Depth of provision
Now is also the time for businesses to take a closer look at existing employee assistance programmes to see whether they are working hard enough. Many products available just don’t have the depth of provision required, especially when it comes to the enhanced levels of mental health care now needed, or for particularly complex cases. So when the support only goes so far, employers and employees alike just write it off, which adds another layer of complications.
The HR leaders we work with appreciate that it is one of their biggest responsibilities to ensure they have the right package of health and wellbeing care in place, because it needs to be delivered at a time when an individual is really at their most vulnerable.
What is the ideal solution for businesses?
Supporting employees with the struggles outlined in this report must not be a box-ticking exercise. Business leaders should lead from the top and ensure an open and inclusive environment is maintained. It is also unfair to expect line managers to take on the role of counsellor regarding emotional support. They are unlikely to have the right qualifications and they may also be feeling the strain.
Providing the Best Support
It is more beneficial for businesses to source external support. BHSF has a number of services that not only help employees, but also employers, and which consistently go the distance in terms of connecting someone with the specialist skills required quickly and accessibly. Employees can access personalised, on-demand advice from a breadth of expert mental health, financial and legal providers, often working in conjunction with another and handled by a dedicated case manager. That it is a tailored service built around an individual’s specific needs, in particular their mental health wellbeing, ensures that no matter the complexity of a case, the BHSF team will be by their side until a resolution is reached.
Immediacy is crucial
Fast-track access to comprehensive support is the key success factor, when it comes to making a real difference. If someone is in crisis, being told they can access mental health support in a few weeks or months is no good; they need help there and then. If an employee has a mental health issue, early intervention is needed straight away. The solution has to be built around comprehensive secondary mental health support packages that conform to NHS standards of clinical excellence. BHSF has trained specialists around the country, made up of counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health educators, plus experts on trauma, stress, mediation and resilience.