Manager training ‘biggest stress solution’ – EBC research

Investing in training managers to deal with stress in the workplace is the single most effective wellness intervention available to employers, a survey of employee benefits consultants (EBCs) has found.

Mental health stressA poll of EBCs conducted by MetLife Employee Benefits found 71 per cent rated investing in stress management training for managers the most effective technique for tackling workplace stress, over regularly used approaches such as free access to healthcare and counselling sessions. The survey was carried out by Pollright, which contacted over 200 EBCs.

Offering training to employees was the second most effective approach, rated by 67 per cent of EBCs. The survey found 74 per cent of EBCs believe wellness monitoring is a major concern for businesses over the next two years.

Limits on working hours were seen as a priority for 61 per cent of consultants, while 60 per cent said mental health issues and increased working from home will be priorities for employers to address.

More than half of EBCs – 55 per cent – reported a rise in mental health issues at organisations they work with and 72 per cent believe employers need to understand more about the impact of stress and mental health at work.

Just over half of the sample, 52 per cent, said they believe there is growing momentum among employers to address mental health. But 69 per cent of EBCs say there is no agreed best practice on how to tackle stress, creating a major barrier to effective change.

The research found just 44 per cent of EBCs believe that optional counselling sessions are effective at tackling mental health issues while 59 per cent say offering free access for staff to healthcare professionals is helpful.

EBCs are becoming increasingly interested in developing services to help employees improve their finances – around 50 per cent say personal finance education and training at work is effective in enabling employees to cut stress and be more effective at work.

But 66 per cent agree that employees remain very reluctant to discuss mental health issues at work and 55 per cent say that discussing mental health and stress at work is career-limiting.

MetLife UK employee benefits director Adrian Matthews says: “Tackling stress and wellness in the workplace does not need major investment as the most effective techniques identified by EBCs focus on individuals.

“Training managers to be able to address stress issues before they become a problem and helping individuals whose behaviour can cause stress are relatively simple initiatives which can make a major contribution to addressing wellness at work.

“It is encouraging that EBCs believe that momentum is building to address mental health at work but without agreement on best practice to tackle the issue making progress may be difficult.”