Employer health and wellness programmes need to improve

mental health

New research from US-based health insurer Aetna reveals a chasm between how employers view the health and wellness services they offer, and their employees’ perception of this

In the first of two Business of Health 2020 reports, titled Tackling polarised perceptions of corporate health and wellness – which investigates the opinions and experiences of 5,000 HR directors and employees in the US, UK, UAE and Singapore – findings reveal that the discrepancy in opinion could lead to a major impact on productivity.

The report details that 94 per cent of businesses want their employees to prioritise physical and mental health over work and, as such, 70 per cent of employers believe that they provide good access to programmes that support health and wellness. However, only 23 per cent of employees feel the same way, while 24 per cent rated the support offered by their employer as ‘poor’.

This stark disparity across the board is mirrored by the study in each region, especially in the UAE, where 51 per cent of employees rated their company’s support for stress in the workplace as poor compared to only 13 per cent of the employers.

Dr Mitesh Patel, Medical Director, Aetna International, offered his opinion on the subject: “A clear gap is emerging globally when it comes to the level of mental and physical health support businesses are providing and the impact this is having on employees,” he said. “While employers recognise that offering wellness and health support is becoming as vital as policies around holiday time, sick leave and retirement plans, companies need to do more to better understand and meet the needs of workforces.”

Indeed, the study highlighted that 87 per cent of workers across the globe were concerned that stress could one day impact their ability to work, and two-thirds (67 per cent) of workers stated that they wouldn’t join a company if they didn’t have clear policy on supporting those with mental health issues.

It’s plain to see that employees’ and employers’ perceptions around quality of wellness and mental health support in their businesses are worlds apart. Something needs to be done to address the demand for better mental health support and services for employees, as employers that fail to provide this will fall back in terms of recruitment and staff retention – not to mention staff productivity.

You can read the full report here.