Employee wellbeing | The UK's largest companies now recognise the link between financial wellbeing and employee mental health

The UK's largest companies now recognise the link between financial wellbeing and employee mental health

The CCLA has released the 2023 edition of its Corporate Mental Health Benchmark UK report, and its findings tell us a lot about the changing landscape of the world of work and evolving pressures for both employers and employees.

Jumping from the pandemic into a cost-of-living crisis has put immense pressure on economies, supply chains, organisations, leaders and workers alike. Whilst job vacancies remain high and unemployment low in the UK, many are increasingly struggling to make ends meet.

With further Bank of England interest rate rises on the cards, and the looming prospect of a recession towards the end of 2023 and beyond, employees are increasingly worried about their financial security. And these worries are having an impact on the workplace too.

What the report says

The UK 100 report predominantly focuses on how some of the biggest employers in the UK are approaching mental health in the workflow and tiers their performance based on a set of criteria. For example, the likes of Experian and HSBC are in the top tier, whilst firms like the Weir Group have climbed from tier four to tier two since 2022.

When it comes to financial wellbeing though, the big stat from the 2023 report is that 43% of the organisations involved now recognise the link between financial wellbeing and the mental health of their employees. That’s up from 26% last year with the cost-of-living crisis being noted as the catalyst for the change of attitude in this specific area.

Amy Browne at CCLA noted, “Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis have only served to compound our belief that poor mental health is a systemic risk. Companies have an economic and moral imperative to manage this risk.”

“The huge increase in companies acknowledging the link between fair pay and financial wellbeing, and the mental health of their employees, is encouraging.”

“It demonstrates that employers have an increasing awareness of their own responsibilities in ensuring good mental health in the workplace.”

There has also been an increase in the number of organisations promoting their mental health support policies with 66% making a formal commitment to do so within policy statements (up from 52%), and 89% running awareness campaigns internally advertising the support on offer.

All in all, 93% of the organisations in the report have recognised mental health as an important business issue - though that figure remains unchanged from last year, and one in three firms are yet to formalise their commitment to mental health in a policy statement.

Uptake remains a big issue too. Whilst more than nine in 10 organisations offer mental health support, but only 33% say they’re being taken advantage of by employees. The stigma around mental health remains a core issue in many workplaces, and leaders are failing to lead in this area. In fact, the report notes how just one in four CEOs are formally signalling their leadership on mental health matters - and this figure is stubbornly not improving over time.

Why are financial wellbeing and workflow performance linked?

The primary link between financial wellbeing and issues starting to arise in the workflow are mental health related.

Employees who are struggling financially experience more stress and are prone to physical health issues too. Research from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute suggests that over 1.5m people in England alone are experiencing both problem debt and health problems simultaneously, including anxiety, stress, and depression.

And with two-thirds of workers who are struggling financially reporting at least one symptom of poor mental health, there’s both a moral and economic prerogative for organisations to ensure - or in the very least, support - the financial wellbeing of their people.

The research that highlights the negative link between poor mental health and worsening work outcomes is well understood, from reduced confidence and productivity to increasing absenteeism and higher staff turnover.

No matter the trigger of the mental health issue, the negative outcomes for an organisation are always costly.

Practical ways to support your employees

The pandemic and ongoing cost-of-living crisis has shone a spotlight on the growing financial wellbeing crisis affecting many of us, and organisations are looking for ways to help their staff through this difficult period.

Some have been able to move quickly and offer direct financial support including inflation-matching wage rises. However, many organisations are struggling themselves due to rising costs and strong global economic headwinds.

What’s important though, is organisations acknowledge the struggles that their employees will no doubt be facing and look to offer support where they can. We’ve created a free guide on how organisations just like yours can support employees throughout the cost-of-living crisis with 10 practical ideas split between both financial assistance and non-financial support.

Learn more by downloading the guide here.

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