Companies must train managers to support employee mental health

Employees need safe spaces in which they can express their needs

Businesses still have a long way to go in supporting mental health in the workplace. Most (93%) employers know their mental health and wellbeing responsibilities. But nearly eight in ten (79%) employers and HR professionals have not provided line managers with training to support mental health and wellbeing at work, says a new study by HR consultancy WorkNest.

When it comes to action, the survey found that despite the effects of the pandemic on employees’ mental health in terms of loneliness, 38% of employers and HR professionals also admitted to not taking action to tackle the loneliness and isolation of employees when working from home.  


Just two-fifths (42%) of employers and HR professionals have put measures in place to tackle loneliness and isolation, and only one in ten (12%) of those who have not put measures in place say they intend to tackle it. 

For managers, learning how to manage and address staff wellbeing is essential to creating a well-supported team. If they have the right skills, they can manage problems and offer support before the employee reaches a critical point. 

However, due to the pandemic and the fact that employees work remotely and in a hybrid way, mental health issues are much harder to spot, as visual clues that are much easier to detect in the workplace can be missed. 

Research into Google’s online search patterns has shown a significant increase in employees suffering from loneliness over the past four years, highlighting the need to provide employees with mental health and wellbeing support. 

Online searches for ‘loneliness while working from home have increased by 76% in the last four years (data analysed between August 2018 and July 2022). Other data also revealed that online searches for ‘loneliness or isolation in the workplace have increased by 26%. 

Priority list 

For some businesses that have not yet implemented measures to tackle worker loneliness, this issue needs to be placed higher on the priority list. 

In addition, it is essential to ensure that employees feel safe communicating and expressing their problems. Finally, line managers need to understand the impact their team’s mental health can have on normal day-to-day activities in the workplace.

Mental health affects how people think, feel and act, but it also helps determine how employees deal with stress, relate to others and make choices. 

Open communication

Rob Evans, a senior HR consultant at WorkNest, said: “Line managers play a vital role in supporting employee wellbeing. By getting to know their team well and encouraging open communication, line managers are in a better position to spot any changes in the behaviour of team members. 

Mr Evans continued: “Training line managers in mental health and wellbeing could be an easy win for employers; however, it is still not the complete solution. Employers and HR professionals need to create a culture within the company that encourages open communication so that employees feel comfortable raising issues. We anticipate that these broader mental health and workplace wellbeing skills will be increasingly in demand as the cost of living crisis takes hold.” 

In this article, you learned that:

  • 38% of employers and HR professionals also admitted to not taking steps to address employee loneliness and isolation when working from home.
  • Two-fifths (42%) of employers and HR professionals have implemented measures to address loneliness and isolation.
  • Of those who have not implemented such measures, only one in ten (12%) said they were planning to tackle it. 

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