Good health extends beyond the physical, and the wise employer makes sure that their staff are supported psychologically, too. Kirsty Jagielko, head of marketing at Cigna explains how employers can ensure this

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Happy and healthy employees are the driving force behind every successful business. They not only take fewer sick days, but those who eat well and exer­cise regularly are more likely to have higher job performance¹. But physical fitness is just one aspect.

Factors such as financial stability, workload, family, health and social interaction can all have an impact. That’s why the right approach to stress and wellbeing is an increasingly important responsibility for today’s employers.

Health insurers are helping to drive awareness. Research from global health benefits and services company Cigna2 has revealed that only 39% of the UK population rate their overall health and wellbeing as excellent or very good.

Diving deeper into these results shows only 27% are happy with their financial situation and just 26% are sat­isfied with their workplace wellbeing.

Worryingly, Cigna’s research shows that more than half of the UK popula­tion suffers from work-related stress and 45% don’t have a good work-life balance. In addition to workload con­cerns, only 20% believe they have suf­ficient financial security if they found themselves unable to work.

With these challenges, it’s not surprising that, last year, 15.8 million employee workdays³ were lost as a result of emotional wellbeing issues. Stress, anxiety and depression were the main causes.

Having the right attitude and approach within the workplace to emotional wellbeing can have a huge impact on how long an employee’s condition lasts and how quickly the individual will return to work. Emotional wellbeing problems are more likely to recur or persist if not addressed promptly. Ensuring that your employ­ees receive quick and appropriate treatment is key, and these simple steps can help.

 

A GUIDE FOR EMPLOYERS

 

STEP 1 – TAKE NOTICE

The first step is for employers to take notice of their staff and any changes in their usual behaviour. For example, someone who was previously outgo­ing could become very withdrawn, or a person who’s usually quiet may become more vocal. Often, it is only in retrospect that employers realise the signs were there.

 

STEP 2 – DISCUSS

The first conversation between an employer and the staff member is usually the most difficult. Reporting managers are often worried about invading an employee’s privacy, breaching professional protocol or

receiving more information than they expected. It’s vital that managers hear what the employee has to say and try to understand their perspective before making any suggestions.

 

STEP 3 – TAKE ACTION

Employers need to offer guidance and provide support to staff showing signs of emotional wellbeing issues. Thank­fully, there are a number of options. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that helps people change the way they think and behave. CBT is one of the most effective treat­ments for conditions where anxiety or depression is the main problem.

Cigna recently introduced a new emotional wellbeing option which provides members with easy access to support and to a range of services, including psychotherapy, psychiatric care and online self-help. Having this support removes the wait time to see a general practitioner and puts people on a course of treatment quickly. This also helps promote a workplace culture that enables employees to seek help when they need it.

 

A POSITIVE OUTLOOK FOR ALL

It’s important your staff’s health and happiness stays at the top of the well­being agenda. It’s also critical to pro­mote awareness of these issues and create a culture where staff feel they can talk openly about their concerns.

With emotional wellbeing concerns often lasting for many years, early intervention is vital. The right support at the right time can help your employ­ees to achieve positive emotional wellbeing and enable them to remain productive members of the workforce.

Those who feel their employer cares about their overall health and wellbe­ing are more likely to be motivated, engaged and are less likely to leave. Happy and healthy people drive healthier, more profitable businesses.

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