United Kingdom

Less than a fifth of employers are managing staff mental health

April 2019

At a glance

  • Research shows just 18% of employees are proactively managing stress and mental health in the workplace
  • Employees still ‘struggling in silence’ says Aon experts
  • Aon urges employers to adopt a strategic approach and improve employee benefits communication

Stressed man

The health and wellbeing of staff is still misunderstood, yet employers who get it right can enjoy the positive effects of loyalty, engagement and productivity, according to a group risk trade body.

Research by GRiD, a group risk trade body, found that just 18 per cent of employees are proactively managing stress and mental health in the workplace.

But of the 500 HR bosses polled, only 15 per cent are taking steps to improve financial wellbeing support for their staff and 18 per cent are supporting employees with caring responsibilities outside the workplace.

Speaking to Cover magazine, Kathryn Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD said: "Employees can be greatly affected by areas of their lives outside of work. The companies that are best at supporting the mental health of their workforce are the ones that take this into consideration and look at offering more fully rounded support. And, of course, this has a very positive effect on loyalty, engagement and productivity."

Employers should be looking at the ‘wider lives’ of their employees and offer full support rather than just career progression, training and appraisals, she said. Moxham urged employers to look at the support offered through group risk products especially for those wanting ‘targeted and specialist mental health support’ for staff.

Struggling in silence

Speaking recently about workplace mental health, Mark Witte, head of health and risk consulting at Aon said mental health was ‘at the forefront’ of the political and corporate agenda. But citing a 2017 Mind report which showed that 48 per cent of people had experienced mental health issues at work while only half of those had talked to their employer about it, Witte warned that a quarter of employees were still ‘struggling in silence’.

Aon’s Benefits and Trends Survey 2019 showed that less than half of UK employers (41 per cent) currently have a mental health strategy in place, a finding consistent with the findings of the government’s 2017 Thriving at Work report which found 39% had workplace mental health initiatives.

Mental health awareness

But Charles Alberts, head of health management at Aon said he was ‘optimistic’ that the figures would improve as more employers and senior leaders were ‘starting to recognise’ the impact mental health has on work, the individual and society as a whole.

“We are advocates of taking a holistic approach to mental health, providing support to all employees,” Alberts said. “As found by the IOSH MENTOR study, interventions such as Mental Health First Aid should not be offered in isolation, but as part of a wider mental health strategy.”

Alberts pointed to further findings from the 2017 Thriving at Work survey which showed that just 24 per cent of line managers had received some form of mental health training. He warned that without adequate knowledge, skills and confidence, it would be difficult to see a shift in how employees were supported.

“The lack of mental health literacy is one of the drivers behind Aon creating a half day course tailored to people leaders,” Alberts added. “We also need to acknowledge that employees, line managers and even mental health first aiders are not experts in employee benefits and services. We should be doing more to demystify the range of options through creative communications strategies.”

For more information or to discuss any of the issues outlined in this article, please get in touch by emailing us at [email protected] or calling us on 0344 573 0033.


Aon UK Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England and Wales. Registered number: 00210725. Registered Office: The Aon Centre, The Leadenhall Building, 122 Leadenhall Street, London EC3V 4AN.