Concern around employee mental health is mounting with employers shifting benefits to prioritise wellbeing in this area. 

A new survey by Willis Towers Watson, which surveyed 213 companies, found that almost nine in 10 companies (87 per cent) were concerned about the increase in mental health issues among their employees.

As such, three quarters (75 per cent) of the organisations surveyed stated that they were working to prioritise improvements to their employee benefits provision in this area over the short, and medium, term.

For most, this was an immediate priority with almost four in five (78 per cent) saying that enhancing mental health and stress management services would occur within the next six months.

Over two-thirds (64 per cent) wanted to highlight their current benefits and wellbeing programmes over the short-term, bringing more awareness to the existing support on offer.

As it currently stands, the most popular benefits include mental health services (68 per cent), consultations with GPs (68 per cent) and physiotherapy or musculoskeletal support (45 per cent).

However, many businesses are looking to expand the benefits offered within the next two years. This would include enhanced support regarding menopause (37 per cent), male health (30 per cent), additional female health (29 per cent), gender transition (28 per cent) and fertility treatment (23 per cent).

These findings largely align with the results of a separate survey carried out by Canada Life.

Within the latter study, 87 per cent of workers expressed desiring to have access to mental health support, whether through employers or directly.

However, over half of employees in this survey (54 per cent) wanted their employer to introduce mental wellness days, increasing to 59 per cent among women working from home.

The same proportion of staff wanted their employer to tackle presenteeism, with many workers feeling the need to be present and online constantly.

Dan Crook, Protection Sales Director, Canada Life, comments:

It is imperative that employers recognise and focus on the mental wellbeing of their employees. Whether it is continuing working from home or helping employees readjust to working in the office again, mental wellbeing and support should be a central focus of employers’ people management plans.

Mark Ramsook, Senior Director, Health and Benefits at Willis Towers Watson echoed this, stating:

Last year many employers shifted very quickly to a new remote way of working and worked hard to reduce the challenges this posed to employees using existing structures, programmes and benefits.

A year later, many are concerned that the mental health implications of this prolonged period of social distancing needs addressing further through new and enhanced employee benefits, as well as initiatives such as peer-orientated support networks and access to trained mental health champions.

*Willis Towers Watson’s report ‘Emerging Trends in Health Care Delivery’ surveyed senior employee benefits professionals at 213 UK companies between January-February 2021.

**Canada Life’s research was conducted by Opinium between 19th and 21st January 2021 with a sample of 2000 adults, of which the questions were asked to 592 UK adults that are full time workers who now work from home because of the pandemic.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.