In future years, employers might have to comply with legislation on wellbeing that could be compared to the health and safety legislation which they need to comply with today.

That was one of the conclusions of a series of roundtable events hosted by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Aviva which sought to discover what employers really think about wellbeing.

Attended by CEOs, MDs and HR professionals representing a wide range of industries and business sizes, events were held in Manchester, Liverpool, Warwick, Hampshire and Kent.

Overall, employers were quick to recognise the potential benefits of a wellbeing programme in terms of recruitment, retention and motivation.

“While getting providing strong rehabilitation benefits and supporting employees during periods of illness is obviously a worthwhile goal,” the BCC noted, “it’s even better to help them build the resilience they need to help prevent illness in the first place.”

Key insights

Following the roundtable discussions, Aviva has listed six main conclusions.

  • Wellbeing needs to be ingrained within the business strategy, culture and values and must not be seen as a one-off campaign.

  • Organisations will benefit from mental health resilience training, probably as part of standard induction processes.

  • A “top-down” approach is needed to manage employee mental health which must be recognised as of equal importance as physical wellbeing.

  • There needs to be a bigger effort to provide relevant training for managers who are promoted from within.

  • Building a grassroots volunteer network is crucial with “heroes” at all levels helping to ensure take-up for wellbeing programmes.

  • Employers should be aware that flexible working is not the answer to all problems, particularly if it leads to fear of an “always on” culture.

And, as one group concluded: “We need to make sure employees know it’s okay to not be okay”.

Comment from Health Assured CEO and wellbeing expert David Price

Employee mental health continues to garner more and more attention and employers should never underestimate the impact that this can have on their company.

Although there is currently no legal requirement on employers to implement wellbeing programmes, doing so can be well received by a workforce, help them to take less sick days and, ultimately, provide incentive for them to stay in a company.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that outdated stigmas surrounding mental health are simply not going to work in the modern workplace and employers need to make sure they are moving with the times.

Last reviewed 14 August 2019