Last reviewed 29 June 2022

KPMG and the University of Cambridge have unveiled a new partnership which, they said, would reimagine the world of work by examining the big issues affecting the modern workforce and offering practical, research-backed solutions to employers.

The initial focus will be on “what really works” when it comes to supporting employees’ mental wellbeing.

The University will bring together researchers from different disciplines to better understand the factors that affect mental wellbeing at work. It will show how different kinds of supports can boost individual mental wellbeing, enhance productivity and promote a healthy workforce for the future.

KPMG will open its doors to the researchers, who will assess the effectiveness of the mental wellbeing initiatives the firm currently offers to its 16,000 UK employees.

This will develop an evidence base of what works and how new support measures can be developed and evaluated to meet employees’ future needs. KPMG will use these insights to invest in and evolve its package of mental wellbeing support.

Professor Gordon Harold, who is leading the Mental Wellbeing programme for the partnership, said: “Mental health is the bedrock of a healthy, productive and positive society. By 2030 depression will be a leading cause of mortality and morbidity globally, with significant implications for individuals, society and the future of work. Promoting positive mental health and supporting those who experience or are at risk of mental ill health is now a national and global priority.”

The partnership will go on to examine issues including the impact of digital technologies, the global distribution of work and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG).

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

The Covid pandemic heightened employers’ responsibilities to adequately care for their employees’ mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Those who failed to put effective measures in place suffered from high staff turnover and increased burnout-related absences, due to their people feeling overwhelmed and undervalued. However, more can still be done.

Introducing mental health first aiders and providing empathy and emotional intelligence training to managers can be a great first step in breaking the stigma associated with mental health. Similarly, employers should pro-actively develop initiatives to encourage open communication and non-judgmental discussion platforms.

It’s important for employers to regularly check-in with their workforce, to ensure their needs are met and see if further support is needed.