Six in 10 (63%) employers have increased the level of support they offer staff across one or more areas of mental, financial, physical and social wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is according to a survey of 505 HR decision makers by GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector, which sought to find out how employers have responded to the wellbeing challenges the crisis has thrown up and what the priority areas of focus have been.
The mental health of staff was ranked as their number one priority, followed by physical wellbeing, financial wellbeing and, lastly, social wellbeing.
Half of firms increased communications around the support available to staff and 44% made more time available to help staff directly.
Thirty-eight per cent extended the support on offer to reflect changes requested by employees and 32% made more support available to employees’ families.
Almost a quarter (24%) increased investment in support directly, and 25% invested in new employee benefits.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “It’s great to see that employers are stepping up to the plate: not only do the majority understand that they have a great responsibility for the wellbeing of staff but many are also implementing practical changes to make a tangible difference.
“However, we urge the remaining businesses who have either not made any changes or who have decreased support to take stock. Employees have long memories and their loyalty can be quickly won or lost during times of adversity so all employers should be playing their part in supporting staff wellbeing.”
GRiD advised employers to look at the support readily available via existing employee benefits and whether it is being underutilised before considering investment in new options.
Moxham said: “The surge in mental health issues among employees needs to be met with a similar increase in resources from employers. And not only does a workplace mental health strategy need to support those experiencing severe issues, it also needs to help employees deal with personal problems that may lead to mental health issues in the future, such as relationship issues, dealing with eldercare, separation, loss, abuse, violence and addiction.
“Much of this wide-ranging support is often included in group risk insurances, at no extra cost to the employee or employer.”