Julia Irvine 7 Jul 2017 01:44pm

One in three employees suffering from mental health issues

Businesses must do more to ensure that employees are comfortable with talking about their health and wellbeing – particularly anxiety, depression and stress issues, PwC says

The Big Four firm surveyed 2,000 workers in the UK from managing director level to junior employees and discovered that nearly a quarter (23%) think their organisation does not take employee wellbeing seriously enough.

This is not surprising given that more than half (54%) of the respondents said that their employer does not offer health benefits such as counselling, health screening and subsidised gym memberships.

Yet health and wellbeing impacts on employees’ ability to do their job effectively. Health issues have led to 39% of them either taking time off work or reducing their responsibilities. Of those, 39% felt awkward about discussing the reasons with their employer.

Again, this is not surprising: the PwC survey found that the most common issues (34%) were anxiety, depression and stress, which are still seen as carrying a stigma.

“It’s becoming increasingly important for organisations to provide employees with support for their emotional and physical health at work,” said Jo Salter, director in PwC’s people and organisations business.

“Healthier and happier staff perform better, stay in their business longer and reduce costs and risk for organisations.

“Understanding and addressing the root causes of employee wellbeing is the first step to resolving the underlying issues.”

PwC suggests that technology can play a part in helping to improve wellbeing at work. Virtual reality can be used to create work-like scenarios, for example, that would help employees overcome stress and improve their performance.

Data analytics can also be used to gather team data and trends that may be affecting wellbeing.

However, as Salter points out, employers would need to convince their employees about the benefits – fewer than half of the respondents said that they would willingly accept a free piece of wearable technology if their information was then shared within their organisation.