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The dilemma of mental healthcare awareness in the workplace

Are wellness perks undervalued?

Research carried out by Perkbox, Europe’s fastest growing employee experience platform and TalentPool, the UK’s leading talent matching platform, has uncovered UK employers’ most promoted perks to attract young working professionals.

When it comes to wellbeing perks, the results are quite surprising, and not in the most favourable light. Through the analysis of 8,700 job advertisements in the country over the last year, the research has found that the perks most promoted by employers primarily to help combat stress issues, are zero to none. Only 18% of employers advertised free or subsidised gym membership on their job specs.

Further, just 1% used yoga classes as a perk to attract candidates and none at all considered meditation as something valuable enough to add. Other employee wellness perks such as CiC programmes did not get a mention either, signalling, at the very least, a lack of awareness around their existence and/or the value they represent to employees.

Workplace stress affects most of our workforce in the UK and worldwide, with one of the largest known UK studies of stress levels reporting that 74% of people have felt so stressed that they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. These findings may therefore be revealing the root cause of a serious problem – might wellness perks be undervalued?

If so, this could be an issue worth its weight. Stress left untreated can lead to chronic stress or burnout. Both of these have many physical and mental health implications – which might even help explain why private healthcare, appears to be promoted by so many employers in the job advertisements studied in this research (28%).

What’s more, based on a separate survey of 7,400 employees also undertaken by Perkbox and TalentPool, behavioural trends of our youngest workforce members point towards similarly worrying trends. These include ranking ‘ambition’ over the basic principle of having an employee ‘voice’.

The absence of this can easily spiral into a cycle of unpleasant stress and burnout. 47% of respondents said ‘career progression and promotion prospects’ come before ‘having a say in what they work on and how they work’ (12%).

Chieu Cao, Co-founder of Perkbox:We’re becoming more open and aware about the seriousness of mental wellbeing challenges in the workplace and the seriousness attached to them, yet this is in no way reflected on the perks we’re offering as employers, or in the behavioural trends we see from employees. Something is clearly wrong and needs fixing.

Ultimately, the ‘preventative’ side of our well-being as individuals is being underestimated. We must remember that far beyond being employees and employers, we are all human beings and must look after ourselves. Let’s take the time to reflect on this and raise awareness.”

Sophie Hudson, Head of Marketing at TalentPool says: “Although it’s great to see that awareness around mental health is increasing – there is still a long way to go before the stigma is completely removed. We have reached the stage now though where employers can no longer afford to ignore the serious impact of poor mental health on their business.

We need to start an open dialogue in the workplace around mental wellbeing and reflect this in our offering to both prospective and existing employees. Instead of heading to the pub for your team social, start investing in wellness perks (such as exercise or meditation classes), which will pay off in the long run when you have a team with increased productivity, motivation and morale.”

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