For many people, work is a major part of their life. It is where employees spend most of their time, interact with others and often make friends for life. In fact, workplace culture and environment, as well as the support offered by an employer, can have a real impact on an employee’s mental wellbeing.
Our latest research of 2,000 employees in the UK found that one in three (31%) are losing sleep at night over workplace stress, while 25% are kept awake worrying about relationships and feeling overwhelmed with day-to-day life. So it’s no surprise that one in eight employees consider their mental wellbeing to be poor and a quarter (26%) see improving their mental wellbeing as their most important personal priority – above improving their physical and financial wellbeing.
When looking at different demographics, our research uncovered some interesting findings. Improving mental wellbeing becomes less of a priority as employees get older. Younger employees are more likely to say they want to improve their mental wellbeing (92% of 18-24 year olds) compared to older employees (79% of 25-44 year olds and 50% of 55+ year olds). This may be due to younger employees feeling the stress of finding and starting a new job, establishing themselves in their careers, as well dealing with escalating student debt, or because they are more aware of their mental wellbeing following education at school and awareness online.
Furthermore, it would appear that employees in more junior roles have poorer mental health. Our research found that the percentage of employees who view their mental wellbeing as poor or inadequate increases as their seniority decreases – 38% of CEOs compared to 48% of junior managers and 52% of clerical workers with no managerial responsibility. This may be because those in more junior roles feel pressure to be climbing the career ladder, or have access to fewer resources and networks to support them with their mental wellbeing.
Many employees are looking to improve their mental health, however they are facing a number of barriers. Our research found that a quarter (26%) of employees don’t have time to address their mental wellbeing due to the long hours they work, and 14% are unable to afford counselling or therapy.
So employees are increasingly turning to their employers for support in improving their mental wellbeing. While some organisations are excelling in this, others are struggling to give employees the support they need. 69% of employees value having mental health first aiders in the workplace but under half (45%) actually have access to these first aiders in their company. 64% of employees value having access to 24/7 counselling services through their organisations but only half (52%) actually have access to this.
However, not all employees want direct support with their mental wellbeing from their employers. Our research asked employees to choose which part of their benefits package they would like to redirect funding to if they could. Only 9% chose improving mental wellbeing, compared to 32% who wanted to redirect funds to save for the future and 19% to clear debt. Instead, employees may be looking for low-cost, smaller-scale mental wellbeing support. In fact, 41% of employees value in-office massages and 37% value in-office yoga classes to keep them relaxed and focused.
As many of the barriers that are preventing employees from improving their mental wellbeing are associated with the workplace, many employees are turning to their employers for support. It is up to employers to find out how best they can help their employees – from mental health first aiders and counselling, to offering massages and yoga classes – and implement this as soon as possible.