On this year’s Blue Monday, coined as the ‘most depressing day of the year,’ a new survey conducted by international recruitment firm Robert Walters highlights growing concerns among professionals in the UK and Ireland regarding employer support for workplace wellbeing.
A significant 55 percent of professionals believe that employers should be doing more to preserve employee wellbeing. This sentiment is echoed by 70 percent of professionals who now expect more active support from their employers in this domain.
The survey found that 58 percent of managers feel employees have become more outspoken about their expectations in the workplace compared to three years ago.
Surprisingly, 41 percent of companies feel that their efforts to enhance employee wellbeing are going unnoticed by their staff.
A noteworthy 28 percent of professionals state that wellbeing has become a ‘top priority’ for them this year.
Over two-fifths of senior leaders (41%) express concern that their increased spending on wellness benefits is largely going unnoticed.
Blue Monday Significance
Blue Monday, falling on the third Monday of the year, is traditionally associated with a surge in post-holiday blues, failed resolutions, financial pressures, and cold weather. This day serves as a reminder for companies to recognise and address the mental health of their employees.
Chris Poole, Managing Director of Robert Walters UK, emphasises the shifting dynamics: “Professionals are beginning to ask, ‘How can my company help me?’ The rise in awareness around employee wellbeing has not only made employees more outspoken but has also increased expectations for leaders to prioritise employee welfare.”
Efforts Go Unnoticed?
Contrary to efforts by companies to double their spending on employee wellbeing initiatives, only 11 percent of professionals feel that workplace wellbeing has become a priority for their employers, according to the Robert Walters poll.
‘Wellbeing Washing’: The Accusation Grows
Companies are increasingly accused of ‘wellbeing washing,’ showcasing support for mental health causes without actively working to improve employee wellbeing throughout the year.
Employee Demand for Change
A striking 70 percent of professionals now expect more from their employers compared to 18 months ago, including benefits, a positive working culture, empathetic leadership, and contributions to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals.
Employees Taking Action
The survey also reveals that employees are becoming more vocal about their needs, with 39 percent of managers noting increased assertiveness, and 26 percent observing employees taking matters into their own hands.
Autonomy in the Hybrid World
In the increasingly hybrid work environment, employees are seeking autonomy, with popular methods including choosing in-office days (56%), setting their own work hours (24%), and pushing back on workload (10%).
Chris Poole suggests, “Upscaling wellbeing interventions can be as easy and inexpensive as flexible work arrangements, improving access to mental health resources, setting up mental health employee resource groups (ERGs), offering paid sabbaticals, or even adding plants or introducing more natural light into the workplace.”
As professionals demand more from their employers, the spotlight on workplace wellbeing is likely to intensify, challenging companies to step up their efforts and make meaningful changes in the best interest of their workforce.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.