United Kingdom

Employers ‘underestimating’ value job candidates place on workplace mental health policies

August 2018

Companies who fail to acknowledge the importance of mental health and wellbeing policies are missing a trick, a leading recruitment firm has warned.

According to recruitment consultancy Robert Walters, employers are ‘underestimating’ the importance potential candidates place on mental health-related workplace policies when looking for a new role. Personnel Today reported that it was this ‘failing that could affect their ability to attract the best candidates.”

Charles Alberts, Aon’s head of health management highlighted the firm’s Benefits and Trends Survey 2018, which found that employee engagement, attraction and retention are top priorities for HR. He said: “It’s surprising that many overlook the value of selling the organisational culture as part of the Employee Value Proposition to prospective (and let’s not forget existing) employees.”

According to the Robert Walters’ survey, just 9 per cent of the 355 hiring managers polled agreed that mental health and wellbeing policies were “very important” for job candidates although 88 per cent of candidates said such policies were an important consideration for them.

Despite some employers not recognising this, 93 per cent of them agreed that staff who felt their mental wellbeing was supported by employers would be more productive at work. And 83 per cent said there would be fewer absences.

Of the 891 professionals surveyed, 72 per cent said attitudes towards wellbeing had improved and around 75 per cent believed colleagues may not feel like talking about mental health at work.

Chris Hickey, Robert Walters CEO for the UK, Middle East and Africa, said: “While hiring managers recognise that these policies can play a role in impacting a jobseeker’s feelings regarding a potential employer, it is clear that they could benefit when recruiting by investing more resources into these policies and placing greater emphasis on them when promoting themselves to candidates.

“Employers should consider the impact that a positive mental wellbeing policy can have in terms of its ability to encourage staff to promote the business to their contact network.”

Alberts observed: “There’s a revolution brewing in this space – many companies already have diversity & inclusion policies, many are currently launching workplace wellbeing policies, and we’re increasingly working with companies to create mental health policies for the first time.

“It’s absolutely the right thing to do, positions the company’s stance on what is a very important issue and something that impacts all of us in one way or another, and also is a requirement in authoritative frameworks such as the Thriving at Work Standards. Making a policy available to prospective employees is but only a start – the challenge and opportunity is how to bring it to life.”

Describing the ‘fantastic’ examples of employers doing this, he added: “It’s great to see so many have already woken up to the magic that diversity brings to the workplace although we still have some way to go, yet.”


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