How to strengthen wellbeing support for Mental Health Awareness Week

The cost of living crisis - in addition to the uncertainty of the last few years - has had a significant impact on employees’ financial, mental and emotional wellbeing that’s affecting both their professional and personal lives. 57% of UK employees say that the cost of living crisis is negatively impacting their work and over two in five frequently experience burnout.

With that in mind, this Mental Health Awareness Week, employers and HR leaders need to take the time to consider effective ways to best support their staff to alleviate stress and reduce the risk of potential workplace burnout. 

Creating a supportive work environment where employees feel valued and appreciated can help improve emotional resilience and productivity

Recognition as an antidote to burnout

As we navigate this harsh economic landscape, it’s crucial that employers support their employees as much as possible in ways that they can control. Many employers may not be in a position to offer a company-wide pay increase or bonus scheme but it is extremely important for employees to feel appreciated for their contribution to the business, whether monetary or not. Values-based recognition allows employers to provide a personal and meaningful touchpoint to make employees feel valued. With 72% of UK employees stating that their overall work wellbeing would improve if they were simply thanked more and 66% of those frequently experiencing burnout at work feeling as though the appreciation in their workplace is lacking - the direct connection between recognition and wellbeing is clear. The more recognition is given, the risk of burnout is reduced.

The impact of financial stress

Our research has shown that if employees are stressed about their financial situation, their performance at work will be impacted. Workplaces that have good or excellent financial wellbeing support are 18% less likely to be affected by the stressors associated with the cost of living crisis. Simply put, employers that are able to help their staff during difficult times, especially with financial wellbeing support, are more likely to see lower workplace stress and increased productivity.

While not all organisations can afford to offer their staff pay rises or bonuses, there are still a number of cost-effective, sustainable ways employers can improve financial wellbeing. For instance, offering an employee discounts programme with savings on everyday costs and meaningful benefits, such as, borrowing support and travel loans. Providing commuting subsidies is another method to help employees save money if they have to come into the office frequently. Similarly, covering equipment costs for your remote and hybrid workforce can help ensure they’ve got the optimal working environment.

Make the benefits and support available clear

There’s a significant disconnect between employers and employees on the financial wellbeing offered within organisations with 82% of HR leaders saying they offer financial wellbeing support and only 44% of employees saying they have access to it. Employers should continuously promote existing benefits and proactively highlight those benefits that can best support employees right now, as there is a strong chance their employees are unaware of the full range of existing benefits.

A winning employer is one who cares

The constant uncertainty from the events of the past few years has increased employees’ stress levels while simultaneously reducing their disposable income. As employers, we’re expected to support our people during trying times, and whilst some might not have the means to do so financially - there are lots of things  employers can do to help reduce overall stress and improve wellbeing. Mental Health Awareness Week is a perfect opportunity to double down on what’s working in your business, or try out new ways of supporting your people, so you can begin to combat stress at work all year long.