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Managers are instrumental in tackling workplace mental health

Employers agree on the first two but are almost unaware of the negative impact of insufficient sleep on employees’ mental wellbeing, according to MetLife Employee Benefits.

As part of its commitment to breaking down barriers around mental health, and with one in four adults experiencing a mental health condition in any given year, MetLife hosted a breakfast briefing in partnership with Buck Consultants at Xerox, a leading provider of consulting and administration services, to discuss the impact of ignoring mental health in the workplace. Key themes the briefing focused on were the best strategies for identification and prevention of mental health issues, and how to build a more resilient workforce.  

MetLife UK Employee Benefits Director Tom Gaynor suggested the missing link between employee engagement and mental health was having a caring and supportive manager. This is supported by MetLife’s UK Employee Benefit Trends Study which found that for every one point increase in “having a caring and supportive boss” there is a 9% increase in employee engagement. 

Tom Gaynor, employee benefits director of MetLife UK, said, “Line managers can be a major driver or limiter of performance, but by supporting their employees they can help create a more motivated and engaged workforce. 

“Early recognition of mental health issues and intervention can help prevent a challenging situation become a crisis. Therefore it’s important that managers are also supported by their employers with access to employee assistance programmes targeted at helping them to help their people. Having practical approaches in place can help employees feel more confident about discussing mental health issues with their line managers.” 

Chris Evans, senior consultant at Buck Consultants at Xerox, said, “Stress and depression are the two leading reasons that prompt employers to implement a wellness strategy. However there is still a stigma attached to mental health issues, which can be seen as a sign of weakness. Overcoming this and developing a culture of acceptance can help raise awareness and understanding. Committing to having a wellness strategy in place is the important first step to prevention and building resilience.” 

Getting resilience right is not complicated but needs a multi-pronged approach, says MetLife. Whilst not a silver bullet, employee benefits programmes can come with features that help.  For example, many Group Risk policies offer employee assistance programmes.  MetLife’s own ProActive Protection provides a range of wellness solutions as part of its Wellness Hub.  

The responsibility for maximising the value of employee benefits often falls to HR professionals.  With this in mind, MetLife has launched a national campaign to identify and celebrate the crucial work done by them to drive and support the continued performance of their organisation. MetLife’s online hub www.metlife.co.uk/HRheroes, features a range of resources specifically designed to support HR professionals

It is clear good mental and physical health are essential for wellbeing. Conversely, poor mental and physical health are strong indicators of forthcoming stress-related episodes, sub-standard performance and absence from work. 

By spotting the signs amongst their team members, organisations can look at practical ways to improve health and resilience, improve stress management and in turn expect to see engagement and productivity improve as a result. All further supported by the tools they have available to them through their employee benefits offerings.

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