Elizabeth Hampson is a partner for the international professional services firm Deloitte, where her focus is health innovation strategy and on projects that improve health and wellbeing outcomes for the UK population. She is also a speaker at the 5th annual MAD World Summit on 11th October.
MAD stands for Make A Difference. The MAD World Summit is the global go-to solutions-focused event for employers dedicated to accelerating the shift from stigma to solutions, turning talk into action and embedding workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing as a strategic priority.
Ahead of her presentation at the Summit, we quizzed Elizabeth on the most important findings in Deloitte’s report on mental health and employers: “The case for investment – pandemic and beyond”, emerging trends and points employers need to keep in mind as they drive this agenda forwards.
For employers, what do you think are the highlights of your report “The case for investment – pandemic and beyond”, particularly in terms of practical takeaways?
The key takeaway for me was how important wellbeing and mental health now are to retain your employees. That’s the real standout from this report.
Historically, organisations have underestimated the labour turnover due to poor mental health and wellbeing and there was little data to confirm or challenge this view. The reality is, after the pandemic, our survey results show that this is a big contribution to employee turnover and. People are voting with their feet and leaving jobs when their wellbeing is impacted.
Employees are choosing employers that they feel can positively support their wellbeing and their mental health. They are making a decision that ‘this employer doesn’t support my wellbeing and my mental health and I want to go and find one that does’.
So, employers that are not looking at employee wellbeing as core to retention and attraction of the best talent need to seriously rethink.
Your report also shows that this tendency to make this conscious decision to leave is particularly prevalent amongst younger employees?
Yes. It’s most prevalent in the under 40s, and also in key workers and those with caring responsibilities.
What do you think that means?
If you want to attract the best young talent, you’ve got to think about how you support them because they appear to have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. They’re more likely to talk about their mental health and more likely to be suffering with anxiety and depression than some of the older employees that have learned how to maintain their wellbeing through different life experiences. And sometimes that means less resilience.
Your report shows, too, that most employees don’t feel supported by their employers. Is that right?
Yes. Around 50% of people didn’t feel supported by their employer through the pandemic.
Were you surprised by that and, if not, what did surprise you in your findings?
I was disappointed by this, but not surprised. What surprised me more was the quick change in attitudes around online support and mental health tools. That shift was bigger than I expected. Before the pandemic versus afterwards, people are a lot more open to it.
Another thing I was surprised about was that people expect more from their employers themselves and in terms of family and friends – the people they live with.
There’s this expectation, now, that in some way employers should think about these people, connected to the employee, when they’re planning their employee assistance programme (EAP), or similar initiative.
Certainly, it makes sense that if you do bring your ‘whole self’ to work and you’re worried about a member of your family, then you’re obviously not going to be able to work at your best. This interested me because it showed how people’s attitudes have shifted in terms of how they see the role, and responsibility, of an employer today.
Where do you think this trend is going and what does that mean for employers?
Employers have to think about the impact of work – not only on the employees themselves – but on their family and their relationships too.
I also think the role and responsibilities of employers will continue to widen and they need to increasingly think about their role in society and what they are doing to positively impact the society, and the community, that they’re working within.
Your report states that for every pound invested in employee wellbeing, an employer gets a £5.30 return. Apart from this, what is the most compelling thing you can say to persuade employers that investing in employee wellbeing is fundamental to business success today?
As well as the clear moral and social case for investment in terms of looking after your employees and the impact that you have as a business, there’s a clear business case. Employers get a lot more out of their teams if they’re investing in them and supporting them to be at their best.
One of the key findings from our report shows the need to think about supporting people throughout their careers, not just at the point that they are struggling.
Employers can help their teams to prevent some of those problems by spotting the signs early and developing the right wellbeing behaviours.
You’re an expert in health innovation. What do you think is the key to success for employers who want to successfully innovate in employee wellbeing?
My view is that it comes down to taking a data-led and tailored approach to understanding what the challenges are within your organisation and understanding what individuals need. The question is: how can you provide enough of a variety that those who have different preferences can find a way that suits them to engage with and manage their wellbeing?
Any advice on making the most of (often large amounts of) data?
Using data to understand what groups of employees you have is really important. Then looking at these groups and really understanding their specific life and work challenges deeply so you can support them more meaningfully. Our report, for example, found that certain groups – like key workers and those with caring responsibilities – were all more likely to leave a job because of poor mental health and wellbeing. So, understanding what the needs of those groups are will help those groups while also helping employers maintain an edge with retention.
If you had to leave employers with one parting message, what would it be?
Don’t forget about mental health now that the pandemic is considered, by some, to be over. There’s been a lot of talk about mental health during the pandemic – keep the openness that you might have grown within your organisation going after this time and use this as a catalyst for positive change.
It’s very clear that financial wellbeing is going to continue to be a really serious issue in the current inflationary environment with many households struggling. Think about what support you have for employees that are struggling, if it is sufficient, or if you can do something additional that may make a difference.
Continue to think about what the implications are for your employees and make sure that people at the top are being really open and accessible in terms of talking about some of their mental health challenges.
The MAD World Summit is taking place in Central London on 11th October. MAD stands for Make A Difference. Now in it’s 5th year, the Summit is the go-to solutions-focused conference and exhibition for employers who want to embed mental health and wellbeing as a strategic priority. Find out more and register here.
If you’re an EMPLOYER, you can sign up for 3 x 15 minute 1-2-1 meetings with exhibitors at the Summit. This will also entitle you to a FREE DELEGATE PASS WORTH £595.00 and access to all sessions. Terms and conditions apply, view here.