Employee mental health will improve next year, say firms

employee mental health and wellbeing Nearly three quarters of UK organisations expect employee mental health to improve in 2023 as they open up about mental wellbeing according to a new poll from Koa Health. The study, conducted in partnership with 3Gem Research and Insights, claims that half of employers say they plan to talk more about mental health in company communications as teams continue to struggle with the cost-of-living crisis and its impact on mental health. A further 44 percent say they will openly and visibly practise mental wellbeing habits in the workplace.  

Nearly all (93 percent) of UK organisations are now offering their employees mental health benefits of some kind and 77 percent of respondents report that their employees are using mental health benefits more now compared with the beginning of the year. With increased benefit utilisation and momentum to destigmatise these issues in the workplace, businesses are optimistic about employee mental wellbeing as they go into the new year, with 70 percent believing mental health will improve in 2023.

When asked about the desired outcomes of such support, quality of life (64 percent), workplace productivity (55 percent) and attracting and retaining talent (50 percent) were cited as the top three.

Despite an evolving appetite to support mental health and an optimistic sentiment toward the outcomes of such programmes, the research also found that although nearly all companies offer mental health benefits, mental health is not a cultural priority for two fifths (40 percent) of UK organisations. Further, only 39 percent of executive leadership teams are expected to authorise additional spending on employee mental health in 2023.

With recent Deloitte research showing that over half (52 percent) of employees in the UK haven’t felt supported by their employer when it comes to mental health, it becomes apparent that despite ongoing efforts and clear intentions to better support employee mental health, there continues to be a gap between employer perception and employees’ lived experience.

While there is misalignment on priorities at the highest levels of the organisation, HR leaders have a strong pulse on what is affecting mental health at work the most.

Almost two thirds (60 percent) of employers feel personal financial concerns have a significant negative impact on employee mental health, closely followed by workplace culture (52 percent), which nods to the work environment, workload, flexible hours and relationships with managers. A hopeful majority of organisations (95 percent) do have in place plans to equip managers to recognise and deal with employee mental health issues next year, with 60 percent planning training on mental health awareness and almost two fifths (38 percent) providing access to aggregated data to help them understand their team’s mental wellbeing.