Mental health: UK businesses could face 'staff retention crisis'

As many as 17 million would leave job

Adam Saville
clock • 3 min read

Research reveals almost half have lost employees because mental wellbeing wasn’t cared for

As many as 42% of UK businesses have seen employees leave due to a lack of emotional support, with 25% saying they had lost a really valuable member of staff, a report by Benenden Health has revealed.

The findings have led the not-for-profit healthcare provider to warn that employers could be facing a staff retention crisis, as UK employees struggle as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

The report showed that 55% of workers (as many as 17 million UK employees) would seek a new job if their mental wellbeing was not being supported by their employer, increasing to 78% among 18-24 year olds.

Meanwhile, some 57% of workers said a supportive mental wellbeing policy would increase the likelihood of them joining a new company.

The research, which focused on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on staff mental health, also found that 42% of 45-54 year olds would quit their job if wellbeing support was lacking - 38% of over 55s.

It found that almost half (46%) of all workers said their job had become more stressful in the last two years, while only a third (36%) said they thought mental wellbeing was a priority for their employer. However, 58% of employers said they genuinely care about the mental wellbeing of their staff. Despite this, only 53% of them had asked their employees would they would like to see by way of mental wellbeing support.

According to the survey of more than 2000 employees and business owners, 46% of staff would like to see free counselling, 45% wanted mental health sick leave, 41% said regular reviews of workload and 35% mentioned a confidential wellbeing helpline.

Three quarters of employees surveyed said they believe all businesses should provide health and wellbeing training to line managers.

The Benenden Health report comes after the government recently outlined its Winter Wellbeing Plan, which has in-part prioritised the role of employers in support staff wellbeing.

'Missed opportunity'

Bob Andrews, CEO at Benenden Health, said: "It is concerning that employers have reported losing good staff due to poor mental wellbeing provision, something that employees clearly consider important, and which could be creating a perfect storm for UK businesses.

"The data highlights a missed opportunity for companies to listen to their employees and promote good mental wellbeing within their organisation, as this can have a real positive effect not only on the health of employees but also on absence rates, productivity, recruitment and retention.

"Businesses who do not take an interest in strengthening their mental wellbeing provision also risk missing the opportunity to access a talent pool that would be loyal to a company that prioritises positive mental wellbeing.

"It's important that employers don't just talk the talk when it comes to mental wellbeing, but also put things into practice to support their staff. It's not too late though. I hope these findings will encourage businesses to think again about how they approach wellbeing within their organisation and make their workplace an even better place to be."

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