Britain’s small businesses face a mental health crisis as their employees struggle with the ‘new normal’ of returning to work after lockdown. A combination of job insecurity, the demands of social distancing in the workplace and the ever-present fear of getting sick from COVID-19 have created a toxic stew of worry for bosses and workers alike.
Three out of ten (29%) small businesses worry about the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on the mental wellbeing of their employees, according to the Small Business Monitor, a report published by WorkLife, an employee benefits service from online money manager OpenMoney. Top of the list of worries for employers is actually keeping their staff safe from the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace, with over a third (36%) citing this as a concern.
When asked about the worries raised by their workers, a third (32%) of firms said employees were worried about their own mental wellbeing. However, employers admitted their staff had other bigger worries linked to the pandemic that contributed to stress:
- 42% of firms said employees fear losing their jobs
- 39% said workers worry about the health of their loved ones
- 38% of employers said employees worry about their personal finances
- 32% said workers were concerned about the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace
As UK businesses try and get back up and running, WorkLife has urged companies to take steps to support the mental health of their employees. Rob Marshall, managing director of WorkLife, says: “Sadly there is no quick fix to end the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. While many people are getting back to work, they are worrying about their commute, safety in the workplace and whether they will still have a job by the end of the year.
“Brits do have a tendency to ‘keep calm and carry on’, but this brings the risk of workers ignoring the stresses and worries that could build up to damage their mental health. Because work is the thing that the majority of adults spend most of their waking hours doing, employers are in a unique position to help their employees with any concerns around their mental health.”
Thankfully mental wellbeing is already high on the agenda for many small businesses. WorkLife’s research found that three out of ten (30%) SMEs currently offer their employees support, such as help managing their stress, while one in four (25%) want to introduce such help in the next six months.
This is why WorkLife included mental health and wellbeing support as an integral part of its employee benefits platform when it launched in the summer. Small businesses using WorkLife will be able to give their workers free access to Thrive, the only mental wellbeing app approved by the NHS.
Developed by psychologists and psychiatrists who have created mental health services for the NHS, Thrive offers a wide range of practical help and support, from relaxation techniques such as meditation, through to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and sleep improvement. The app is personalised to each user, allowing people to tailor it to their needs and set their own goals, tracking their progress in monitoring and improving their mental wellbeing.
Maria Tzegka, Head of Growth and Success at Thrive, says: “We are so delighted to be supporting small businesses via our WorkLife partnership and offer the right service at the right moment to their employees. The Thrive app has been created to help people who want to learn techniques for managing their own mental health, or how to support a family member or a friend that might be worried about.
“Our app offers access to a variety of tools, from calm breathing techniques through to a session with our psychologist at a click of a button, so it is perfect for everyone.”
WorkLife has been created to give small businesses access to the kinds of employee benefits usually only enjoyed by workers at big companies. In addition to Thrive, employees can also access free financial advice from OpenMoney, designed to help tackle the financial stress many workers find themselves in at the moment with many on furlough or facing wage cuts.
To help with health and fitness, WorkLife also offers deals and discounts via My Active Discounts, while Purecard gives employees access to money off on big brand shopping and dining out. The WorkLife platform also gives workers access to discounted rates on life and critical illness insurance from Anorak and household insurance from Uinsure.
The WorkLife platform is simple for employers to set up online, linking up with payroll information and workplace pensions, so employees can see all their benefits and salary in one place. Employers can even add their own benefits and rewards. Normally costing companies £2 per employee per month*, WorkLife is currently available free of charge for the rest of the year to help smaller businesses struggling in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
WorkLife’s Small Business Monitor is based on research carried out by 3Gem among 750 senior financial and HR decision makers in UK SME companies with 5 – 250 employees.
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WorkLife is a digital platform on a mission to make financial advice and employee benefits accessible and affordable to every UK business.
Powered by OpenMoney, it combines top of the range financial advice and market leading benefits with low cost and transparent fees, allowing SMEs to reward their employees with the same great perks as those traditionally enjoyed by workers at larger companies. The platform puts an emphasis on employee wellbeing, making sure they are covered in all the financial, mental and physical aspects of their life.
To help those firms hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis, WorkLife will be offered free of charge to SMEs throughout 2020. *The normal cost is £2 per employee per month, with no additional setup fee.