A new report has investigated the various factors which are preventing employees from being able to divulge their health concerns at work.

New research conducted by Aetna International reveals that fear of judgement is preventing many employees from opening up about their health concerns in the workplace.

In particular, close to three in ten (29 per cent) expressed fear that their career progression would be impacted if HR or management discovered they were struggling.

A similar number of people (27 per cent) also felt worry that senior management would find out the details about their mental health, citing concerns about privacy.

Despite this, employees did share several factors which could make them feel more at ease with seeking out appropriate help.

Around half (42 per cent) asked for training for management which would allow them to better deal with employee wellbeing while a third (31 per cent) felt open discussion could help to destigmatise mental health issues.

David Healy, Chief Executive Officer, Europe at Aetna International, stated that these findings suggested “a significant minority of employees may try to cope alone when facing mental or physical health challenges”.

However, he further expressed that, due to the impact of COVID-19, more businesses are becoming “more sensitive to the stress, anxiety and other pressures that people face on a daily basis”.

An equally important tool to encourage staff to take up wellbeing support was properly talking them through the process.

Nearly half (48 per cent) said they would be more likely to use health and well-being benefits if they were properly introduced to them and a similar number (45 per cent) say they would like proper training on how to access and use available support.

Additionally, leadership was shown to be vital with over one in three employees (35 per cent) stating they would use benefits more if leadership communicated about them.

As such, the report highlights various steps employers can take to encourage people to use the support on offer, including:

  • Offering employees a more structured introduction to available support such as a formal introduction or training
  • Encouraging more open discussions around health and well-being and where to access support
  • Considering how support can be tailored to suit individuals
  • Being clear around privacy and reassuring staff that their information will be kept confidential

David Healy concluded to state:

We know from previous research that businesses across the world have notably increased their support for employee health and well-being over the last 18 months.

The good news is that the vast majority of businesses are now more supportive of their employees’ well-being, the challenge is ensuring employees feel able and empowered to speak up and use the support and resources available to them.

*Aetna examined the views of 3,520 workers in four global markets (UAE, UK, US, Singapore) to obtain these results.





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.