UK mental health crisis fuels rise in firms offering wellness benefits

Companies offering wellness benefits and counselling services see a surge in job adverts

To tackle the growing number of Brits out of work due to mental health conditions, companies across the country are ramping up their efforts to promote wellness perks to recruits.

According to research conducted by Socially Recruited, a social media recruitment platform, job adverts referring to wellness subsidies, budgets, or discounts have skyrocketed by 310% in the past 12 months. Additionally, mentions of employee counselling services have doubled, experiencing a significant 95% increase.

Mental health support

The hospitality sector has emerged as a frontrunner in offering wellbeing bonuses, with prominent businesses like US restaurant chain Chipotle leading the way. Chipotle provides an online wellness hub with licensed counselling services for employees and their dependents.

Other notable companies such as department store Harvey Nichols and food company 2 Sisters have also advertised counselling services to their staff, recognising the importance of mental health support in the workplace.

The surge in job adverts mentioning a four-day week indicates companies’ efforts to attract candidates seeking a better work-life balance. Such mentions have witnessed a remarkable 137% increase as employers acknowledge the desire for flexibility among job seekers.

Long-term commitments

Long-term sickness, with mental health conditions being a significant contributor, has been identified as the primary cause of the rise in the UK’s economic inactivity. Startlingly, nearly nine million adults find themselves neither working nor seeking work. NHS research further supports these findings, revealing that economically inactive and unemployed individuals are more likely to report experiencing common conditions such as anxiety than those currently employed.

Recognising the situation’s urgency, the Government pledged in March’s Budget to invest in mental health services as part of a £406 million funding package to assist people back into employment. These funds will play a crucial role in ensuring adequate support is available to current and potential employees, ultimately driving the economy forward.

A recent study highlighted the staggering cost of work-related stress to the UK economy, estimated at £28 billion annually. With one-fifth of adults describing themselves as “struggling” with mental health and almost half of employees feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about their future, addressing mental health concerns in the workplace has become imperative.

Ben Keighley, the founder of Socially Recruited, emphasises the importance of integrating mental wellbeing provisions within businesses. Keighley notes that how individuals perform and are treated at work significantly impacts their mental wellbeing. By delivering corporate wellness and mental health benefits, companies support their employees and foster greater productivity and loyalty. Keighley urges businesses to normalise these services as part of a comprehensive approach to address mental health openly and without prejudice.

Wellbeing washing

However, Keighley cautions against “wellbeing washing,” where companies provide counselling services while imposing unreasonable expectations on employees. He warns that such organisations may risk losing employees who are increasingly willing to seek workplaces prioritising their mental wellbeing.

As the nation prepares to observe Mental Health Awareness Week, it is clear that addressing wellbeing concerns in the workplace is crucial. The rising number of companies promoting wellness perks and counselling services demonstrates a positive shift toward prioritising employee wellbeing.

Investing in mental health services and fostering a supportive work environment, companies help individual workers and reap the benefits of enhanced productivity and loyalty.

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