A QUESTION OF BALANCE
Introduction by David Sawyers
An adviser guide on how to: sell MH support to employers; better communicate added value services; balance benefits & culture; and get to grips with the latest government recommendations.
It’s probably fair to say that for all the focus in government, industry and media circles on workplace mental health (MH) support, the majority are doing little more than reacting to problems as they arise. Putting in place a telephone counselling service or training for line managers and then moving on to the next pressing problem will represent the reality for most.
That will have to change. Partly because those entering the workforce now demand more of their employer: they want a caring, nurturing, flexible environment. Pay is important of course but pay alone isn’t going to help employers retain people in the current low unemployment, high turnover environment. Added to this, government is making no secret of the fact that it is looking to employers to take up a lot of the slack as it endeavours to reduce both the state disability bill and the burden on the NHS. Those waiting for incentivisation before making a move are likely to be left wanting.
Incentivisation instead must come from getting to grips with the cost to business of not doing anything.
Advisers and providers – working in partnership – have a huge role to play here. But it’s one that doesn’t just involve matching products to need. A much broader consultative approach is required. Stretched employers need support in identifying needs specific to their particular workforce. And then examining how they can make much better use of what they’ve already got to meet those needs.
As a big part of this, workplace culture demands attention. It’s not all about fixing an issue with a product. It’s about creating a culture that encourages employees to be self-aware and not afraid to seek the support they need when they need it. And, of course, to know where to look.
It’s ultimately a question of balance: between physical and psychological support; between products, services and culture; between being proactive and reactive; and between business needs, individual needs and government needs.