MAD World 2022 - Highlights

Watch Tomos Roberts' inspiring poem written exclusively for the 5th MAD World Summit

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The WatercoolerThis Is MeRetail TrustMindMental Health First Aid (MHFA) EnglandInvestors In PeopleBITCOne Million Lives

Are you ready for a new era of workplace mental health and wellbeing?

Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace are more critical than ever before. In just two years, we’ve experienced a decade of change in the world of work. Burnout is ubiquitous, uncertainty persists and now the cost-of-living crisis is biting.

Whilst adapting to meet fast-evolving employee needs and expectations undoubtedly presents challenges, it also opens opportunities for employers to scale-up workplace mental health and wellbeing support, embed wellbeing as a strategic priority and set a new benchmark for best practice.

At the 5th annual MAD World Summit, we’ll be helping employers to step-up by showcasing what’s working now and exploring what’s needed next to weave mental health and wellbeing into your organisation’s DNA, achieve maximum engagement with initiatives, optimise investment in workplace wellbeing and really Make A Difference.

Wherever you are on your workplace wellbeing journey, join us on 11th October for a day packed with insight, inspiration, networking and practical takeaways including:

  • Agenda-setting keynotes from business, thought and health leaders
  • Cross-sector case studies and panel discussions
  • Roundtables for real-time knowledge exchange and networking
  • Interactive workshops to dive deeper into topics that matter
  • 40 suppliers of work culture, mental health and wellbeing solutions under one roof

Mad World Summit

Key topics we’ll be addressing include:

  • What works in wellbeing: beyond rhetoric to practical, evidence-based measurement
  • Approaches to creating cultures of care and embedding mental health and wellbeing into organisational strategy
  • Stepping up mental health and wellbeing support – whatever your budget
  • How to support colleagues’ financial wellbeing through the cost-of-living crisis
  • Equipping leaders and managers with the skills to support their own and colleagues’ wellbeing in the new world of work
  • Finding the balance between an individual and an employer’s responsibility for mental health and wellbeing in the workplace
  • What next for the Chief Wellbeing Officer? Your career in workplace mental health and wellbeing
  • Navigating the intersection between culture, psychological safety and DEI
  • The power of community: making the most of peer-to-peer networks
  • Understanding and supporting menopause at work
  • The future of work and workplace mental health and wellbeing

And much more.  You can view the agenda here.

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Meet the people developing the most progressive approaches to workplace culture,mental health and wellbeing


Share knowledge in real-time with our cross-sector, cross-function network of like-minded speakers, exhibitors and attendees.


Tell your colleagues and book a group pass. Get practical insights to take back and adapt to your organisation.

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Mental health issues can affect people in all sorts of ways, so it’s important to look after both ourselves and each other. Throughout the winter months, approximately 2 million people in the UK will experience seasonal affective order (SAD).

Many people start to feel a decline in their mood as the days get shorter and darker, and the stress that we feel as a result can cause the body to react in different ways. Common symptoms include depression, difficulty sleeping, lethargy, or a general sense of feeling down. For some, the subsequent emotional and physical stress can trigger the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) to reactivate and cause a cold sore flare up.

So with winter approaching, the team at Compeed have rounded up some of the best things you can do to maintain your mental health during the cold months – and, by extension – decrease your likelihood of getting a cold sore.

Enjoy the outdoors

One of the biggest causes of SAD is not getting enough natural sunlight – and there’s considerably less of it around at this time of year. You can maximise your exposure to natural daylight as much as possible by making sure you head outdoors at midday and on brighter days. You can also ensure you get as much daylight as possible indoors by sitting near windows whenever possible.

Keep active

As well as a midday walk helping to expose you to daylight, walking and other forms of exercise are proven to be beneficial to mental health by helping to calm your nerves and clear your thoughts. Going for a run would also help in this regard, as would taking part in more social sports with friends and family.

Keep in touch

Socialising with friends and family is hugely beneficial to mental health, so it’s a good idea to keep lines of communication open with the people you care about as much as possible. Try and accept invitations to social gatherings, even if you only stop by for a short while; spending time with others can be a great way of boosting your mood and putting problems in perspective.

Start a hobby

It really doesn’t matter what your hobby is – what matters is that you spend time doing something you enjoy, keeping your mind active, and getting a sense of accomplishment from having been productive. Once you have incorporated doing something you enjoy into your routine, this also gives you something to look forward to.

Stay warm

This may be harder given rising energy prices, unfortunately, but being cold has been shown to contribute to depressed feelings, while staying warm has been proven to be beneficial for mood. You may be reluctant to put the heating on too much (although a temperature of between 18C and 21C is recommended), but hot drinks and food, warm clothes and thick socks can all help you to feel that little bit cosier.

Eat healthy food

Healthy eating will not only keep your energy levels up and your weight in check over the winter months, but is also an important part of keeping your mood positive. Try to make sure that you eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, while not over-indulging in stodgy carbohydrates.

Keep things light

Light therapy can be a helpful treatment for people dealing with SAD. It’s not a cheap option, but when there is very little natural daylight available, you can use a light box that produces light ten times stronger than standard home or office lighting.

Lightboxes usually cost upwards of £100, but many people find them effective – and some even use them in conjunction with a dawn simulator that mimics sunrise, and can be connected to an alarm clock to wake you up at a certain time.

Find a SAD support group

Talking your experiences through with other people who are experiencing the same thing as you can be extremely helpful; understanding that others are feeling the same way can make your symptoms seem more bearable. Mind can be a good starting point for finding a support group.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

There is no shame in turning to your GP for help with mental health issues, just as there is no shame in making use of the talking treatments such as counselling, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy that are available on the NHS via your GP.  The most important thing is to make sure you are looking after both your mental and physical health, and to reach out for help if day-to-day life becomes unmanageable.

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In this article, I’ve outlined how to avoid the pitfalls when introducing new initiatives during challenging times. And how pulse surveys – if you use the right questions – can be a simple and effective tool to help you build a financial wellbeing strategy that truly makes a difference for your employees.

Creating a tailored solution is key to an effective financial wellbeing strategy

Over half (52%) of all UK employees admit that the cost of living crisis is having an effect on how they are performing at work. This ranges from a drop in productivity, creativity and concentration to more serious issues, such as burnout and presenteeism.

Many business leaders are working to find ways to support their employees amidst their own challenges with revenue and budgets. When considering the support you put in place for your employees it can be really easy to be swept up in what you see other organisations doing. If it works for their employees, it’ll work for yours, right? Wrong. Following this path leads to time and money being wasted on a solution that isn’t used and is ineffective. Don’t be tempted to follow the herd. Make it a rule to follow your herd.

By using pulse surveys to ask financial wellbeing questions, you can begin generating a clear picture of how your employees feel – so that you can start to understand how you can provide tailored support to exactly where its needed, and make workplace changes that benefit everyone.

The best financial wellbeing pulse survey questions to ask

How successful your pulse survey are in creating change will rely on two things:

  1. How well you structure the question(s)
  2. The tools you can use to analyse your data

Here are four of Stribe’s favourite tried and tested questions that you can incorporate into your next employee survey. These questions will give you the insights you need to build an effective financial wellbeing plan that creates real change for your employees.

1. How much are financial worries currently affecting your mental wellbeing? Answer Type: 1-10 (Not at all – A lot)

Free text follow-up question: Which element of your finances impacts your mental wellbeing the most?

2. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: I often lose sleep worrying about my finances. Answer Type: 1 – 10 (Never – Always)

Free text follow-up question: Please share detail to expand on why you scored this way

3. I feel confident I could handle a major unexpected expense. Answer Type: 1-10 (Strongly disagree – Strongly agree)

Follow-up question: Please share more detail

4. In the past two weeks, how often have you felt worried about the rising costs of living? Answer Type: 1-10 (Never – Very frequently)

Follow-up question: What types of support would help you?

Create change that matters

These questions will only get you so far though. You also need to think about the software you are using to send your pulse surveys. Consider using a tool that will allow you to drill down into your data so that you can understand the key themes and trends in your employees’ feedback.

If you aren’t already, using a tool built for employee surveys (as opposed to a free online form provider) will make a huge difference to the success of new initiatives you introduce. Being able to confidently analyse your data by demographics such as Team, Location, Pay Grade, Office/Home-Worker will give you context you can use to create change that matters.

For example, if many of the colleagues who are being affected by financial worries work from home, they won’t benefit from office-based initiatives such as free food in office kitchens, but may appreciate a supermarket voucher as an alternative. This shouldn’t add any complexity to your pulse surveys, many software providers offer this as standard – just make sure they also give you the flexibility to ask the questions you want to ask.

By using these pulse survey questions – and being smart about the tools you use to collect your insights – you will ensure that the support and resources you put in place for your employees is tailored and relevant to their needs, saving time and money for your organisation but most importantly, ensuring that it is effective in supporting their financial wellbeing during this cost of living crisis.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can watch Stribe’s recent webinar on how to use pulse surveys to build an employee wellbeing strategy here.

About the author:

For over nine years Lucy Harvey has worked within purpose-driven organisations in the health and employee wellbeing space. Her personal experience with mental health drives her passion for creating positive change in the workplace. Today, she is on a mission to help leaders and teams create workplaces where everyone can thrive and be their happiest, healthiest selves.

Lucy is currently COO at provider of flexible employee engagement surveys Stribe. Here, she leads the customer success and marketing teams to create workplaces that great people thrive in. Stribe work with some of the UK’s most forward-thinking organisations from Premier League Football Clubs to an LSE-listed Financial Services business.


Cost of living: The best financial wellbeing questions to include in your next employee pulse survey

What do you think of when you hear the term “occupational health” (OH)?

Be honest.

Perhaps an ergonomic keyboard? Or a health MOT at work? Or maybe a health and safety risk assessment?

These are all typical answers to this question. But, in some companies, OH has evolved hugely to become an integral part of the wellbeing agenda (see this KP Snacks case study where the former occupational health department has become the employee health and wellbeing department, absorbing the extra holistic wellbeing remit).

Historically, OH has been solely focused on ensuring employees are safe at work and checking that the company is satisfying all its legal requirements on this front. As Dame Carol Black says, in this form, it “is not fit for the health problems that the workforce has today”.

She adds:

“In its conventional form, OH probably only does about half the job because employees are worried about so many other things now. About flexible working. About their financial wellbeing. About their mental health.”

A unique opportunity for OH

But many believe that the global pandemic demonstrated to companies how important employee wellbeing and OH are, especially as we continue to operate in a very uncertain market politically and financially.

“Covid changed the work health landscape as organisations identified they needed OH support beyond infection and control risks,” says Su Chantry, specialist public health nurse – clinical director, SKC Occupational Health Consultancy. “Post pandemic there’s a unique opportunity for OH, in light of the heightened focus on health in the workplace. The pandemic has shown society that the workplace is an essential setting to promote health.”

As she says, since the pandemic many OH professionals have found their responsibilities have become broader and more multi-faceted, now including mental wellbeing and psychosocial risk factors (these are factors that affect an employee’s psychological and social response to their work and work environment that could including relationships with line managers, workload and autonomy).

“Innovative holistic practice is key to progressive OH,” argues Chantry, who is a nurse by background. She believes that wellbeing is now an essential element of an employer’s duty of care to its staff and that accessing OH is key to being able to deliver strategic health expertise and evidence-based clinical skills.

Lack of understanding around what OH is

“I have a nurse registration and an OH degree,” she says. “We are experts in workplace health, employment and safety law. We can see the medical impact health can have but we advocate how good work can be part of a good healthy outcome.”

However, one thing that is holding OH back in some companies is – she argues – the lack of understanding around what the OH role actually is and does.

“Many see OH as the ‘health police’, a punitive arm of sickness absence management. Or some think OH is a clinician who ‘makes people better’. Very few organisations understand the financial value of investing in health and OH can be perceived as expensive.”

Martin Power, employee health and wellbeing manager at KP Snacks, agrees that perceptions of OH are often outdated, being associated with only the “safety and protection” element rather than “the promoting of good health”.

More than safety and protection

At KP Snacks, Power’s department handles the “reactive” work of absence management and health surveillance, but it also does “the proactive part of promoting wellness, which is integral to driving forward wellbeing”. He’s keen that his department loses the association with being somewhere an employee gets “sent” to have something “done to them”. That was one reason that the department name was changed from occupational health to employee health and wellbeing in 2016.

Another reason there is confusion and a misunderstanding of OH is due to the fact there is little consistency from company to company in where it sits. In some organisations OH is housed under health and safety, in others it’s under HR and others it’s a separate department of its own.

Regardless, there is still a narrow perception across the board about the role of OH. Head of occupational health at Anglian Water Jonathan Hill says that he was even surprised himself at the breadth of the role when he started in the profession, a role he stumbled into from being a physiotherapist for a professional rugby team.

The OH role is “so diverse”

“There’s so much that comes under the OH umbrella. I was surprised at the variety involved, the role is so diverse,” he says. “I was fortunate that my employer supported me through post graduate courses, so I got a really good understanding of the role and how much is involved. Occupational health is a small cog which can have a big impact. OH aims to improve the health of employees, leading to greater workforce productivity and, then, ultimately a stronger economy. To understand this purpose is really empowering.”

The most important message to get across, in Hill’s opinion, is the important role of work in a person’s health and if worklessness was to occur, how quickly a person can fall into poor mental and physical health.

Hill believes that the OH industry needs to raise awareness of the career opportunities, particularly at graduate level, in order to secure the best talent, which will in turn drive the wellbeing agenda forward more effectively. From his experience, OH tends to attract professionals who are unhappy in their current role looking for a job with options of home working and stable hours, rather than people who proactively choose the profession as their first choice. This, he believes, is down to a lack of awareness or understanding of the OH role.

The tide is turning as OH increasingly seen as strategic

While many companies are only really understanding the link between employee health and productivity now, the Arizona-based Institute for Health and Productivity Management has been linking the two for 25 years. According to its co-founder, chairman and CEO, Sean Sullivan, “OH has felt, for a long time, that it doesn’t get a lot of respect from senior management because it’s been seen as more tactical than strategic”. However, he believes the tide is quickly turning.

He says among his client base – which includes the likes of BP and Unilever – there are increasingly strategic leaders spearheading the workplace wellbeing charge who understand that OH is much more than “just a technical job”. These leaders intuitively understand the impactful way that OH can complement an organisation’s wellbeing strategy and don’t “confine” themselves to only workplace inspections but are involved in the “overall assessment of the fitness of the workforce”.

Sullivan agrees that the global pandemic has elevated the status of OH. During this time, OH professionals became critical to, not just the physical safety of employees, but also their psychological safety.

“So it becomes a natural role for those OH leaders who are big thinkers (rather than just measuring workplace hazards) to take a much more strategic role in a company,” he says. “For us, the bottom line is: how well are employees able to function in what they do? So we believe the idea of ‘functional health’ is the concept that links the OH world with the wellbeing world.”

In these examples, where the OH specialist embraces a more progressive remit, there’s no doubt that there is a natural synergy between the OH and the wellbeing missions. According to Sullivan this is “probably not being realised in most organisation”. However he firmly believes that: “the time for occupational health is now”.

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The evolution of Occupational Health

How can we make managing wellbeing at work simple? This is a question we get asked by our clients so often. With a proliferation of providers, reports and models pointing to different solutions, managing wellbeing can feel like an insurmountable challenge.  At Affinity Health at Work, one of our driving principles is to disseminate high quality evidence as far as possible. By sharing of knowledge and evidence, we can best support others to manage and protect the wellbeing of their employees and teams. What this means is that the answer to the question needs to be simple, but it also needs to work.

So how do you manage wellbeing in a way that works best?

Research evidence tells us that the most effective way to do this is to focus on preventing ill-health.  This means providing good working conditions for employees through well designed and managed jobs. As asserted by the recent WHO Mental Health at Work guidelines. However, although it’s necessary, only offering training and development (allowing employees to develop their skills, knowledge and confidence to manage their work and health) or only offering support to those who are struggling (through, for instance, EAPs) is not enough to manage wellbeing effectively.

Prevention focuses on increasing those aspects of work that enable individuals to thrive (resources) and reducing those aspects of work which act as stressors (demands).  These stressors or demands might include:

  • Unmanageable workload, work pace,working hours
  • Exposure to traumatic content or materials at work
  • Experience of, or exposure to harmful behaviour such as violence, bullying or sexual harassment.  demands.

One of the most strongly supported scientific models in the wellbeing literature is the Demands-Control-Support model, developed by Karasek and Theorell in 1990, which points to this synergistic relationship between demands and resources. This demonstrates that if we increase our resources (the elements of the environment that support us and enable us to thrive), we can reduce the harmful impact, or risk of impact of those stressors and demands.

What then are resources, those aspects which enable us to thrive at work?

For this we can go to Basic Psychological Need Theory.  Basic Psychological Need Theory, a mini-theory within the theory of Self Determination, developed by Ryan and Deci in 2017, identifies three basic needs, or elements essential for our wellbeing which are:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Belonging
  3. Competence.

Sometimes called the ABC of psychological needs, this theory has been supported by a huge body of evidence, demonstrating their role in wellbeing across the globe.

Autonomy refers to having some choice, freedom and flexibility to craft elements of our work which could include work location, working hours, how the job is performed and other aspects of the job role.

Belonging refers to environments where we feel connected to the organisation and people within it and with the wider aims and purpose of the organisation, where there are supportive colleague and manager relationships and where we feel valued and recognised.

Competence refers to a working environment where we can use our skills, develop knowledge and progress within the organisation, gain a sense of accomplishment from our work and receive information and communication to remain competent.

So how is this made simple?

The answer is the wellbeing equation, which draws together the the importance of prevention, the role of demands and resources, and the synergistic relationship between the two.  And the equation is (nearly) as simple as ABC.   

Wellbeing = (Autonomy + Belonging + Control) – Demands

In other words, Wellbeing = (A + B + C) – D

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The Wellbeing Equation: Making managing wellbeing at work simple

Martin Power, employee health and wellbeing manager at KP Snacks, is a straight-talking Northerner who doesn’t mince his works when it comes to whether occupational health expertise should be integrated to the wellbeing agenda.

To him, it’s a total no brainer.

“Should occupational health be at the forefront of wellbeing? Or should it be something that is on the side of wellbeing? If occupational heath does not play an integral part of the wellbeing  agenda I think that is plain wrong.”

Missing a trick if you don’t tap into OH expertise

He believes wellbeing professionals are really missing a trick if they don’t tap into occupational health expertise. After all, these specialists have been working at the coalface of workplace health for years and so, he says, “they have a holistic picture of people’s health, not just now but they can identify trends that may affect them going forward”.

The department that Power runs used to be called occupational health but, in 2016, it rebranded to ‘employee health and wellbeing’ to reflect the wider remit, encompassing proactive wellbeing promotion. So, while the department still covers reactive situations like absence management and health surveillance, it also now proactively promotes wellness.

“We took the view that occupational health was too focused on the reactive rather than the proactive. We moved from just focusing on getting people back to work, which we still do, but we also now drive wellbeing forward too,” he says.

Terminology matters

The terminology change was important because KP Snacks felt that the label ‘occupational health’ could sometimes have negative connotations. For instance, some perceive it as where you get sent “to have something done to you like vaccines” or “because you’ve been absent from work”, or even as part of the disciplinary process.

By contrast, Power believes that wellbeing is often seen as “one of those flowery topics which nobody can quite define”. By bringing the rigour and outcome-focus of occupational health together with wellbeing is the ideal balance, believes Power.

His department currently works closely with the safety teams in the business, its remit being to put the “health” into healthy and safety; physical as well as psychological, carrying out stress risk assessments for the latter.

More than safety 

“Safety teams have got a reputation for being focused only on the safety and protection element, preventing accidents, rather than the promoting of good health,” explains Power. “But there are predisposing factors which affect behaviour so if you’re not focused on holistic employee wellbeing, and flagging issues or problems,  they’re more likely to have an accident.”

One of the changes that is fundamental to the way teams now operate is the daily check-in before work starts. “They’ll start with asking ‘how are we all feeling today? How are we as a team? Is there anything we’re worried about?’ which is all about driving culture change.”

Another department that Power’s team works closely with is diversity and inclusion. For instance, they are collaborating on running a campaign next year specifically focused around women’s health. 48% of the workforce is female and over 40% of them are over 40. The campaign aims to cover topics like the menopause and fertility. Power says:

Data to inform wellbeing strategies

“A lot of the data is saying that younger people are looking more and more at the rewards and benefits packages at employers. If we don’t support employee wellbeing, they’ll go and move elsewhere for employment. It’s also a bit about us putting back into our community as this campaign will also benefit colleagues, partners and friends of our female employees.”

Using data to inform wellbeing strategies is also important to KP Snacks. The department has been actively gathering health data for the last three years, via the employee engagement survey, in order to feed into health related decisions, like which interventions to invest in.

In terms of the employee base, it’s actually the manufacturing employees – rather than the office based workers – that are driving the interest in wellbeing. Consequently, much work has been directed at reaching these workers with the message that the company wants to help them manage their wellbeing.

Conundrum: how much to get involved in employee decisions

“We encourage them to get a wellbeing assessment so they can identify what they need. Is it a bit of advice? Is it a bit of physio? Is it help with sleep?” says Power. The department recently set up some health kiosks on site where colleagues can get their basic health level checked, looking at things like blood pressure, weight, sleep, etc.

As well as helping the individual, data is gathered at this point too, to also be fed into future decisions and identification of trends at a local level. So far this new initiative has engaged around 60% of the workforce (around 13,00) in its first year of operation.

Some employees have flagged that their diet management is poor, so Power is currently looking at the snack options available in vending machines for colleagues.

The conundrum here is to what extent should employers get involved in employees’ health related decisions at work. As he says:

“Just because colleagues want certain snacks in the vending machines, does that mean we should be putting them in there? Or should we take unhealthy options away?”

Tapping into sports sponsorship 

Power’s personal view is that unhealthy options shouldn’t be placed at eye level in the machines, this should be reserved for healthier choices. “I’m a big believer in the nudge theory,” he says. “You can’t make someone make a healthy choice but you can nudge the towards doing the right things and we, as employers, can make this easier for them to do that.”

KP Snacks has also used its sponsorship of cricket competition The Hundred to encourage, not only the general public, but also its employees to get active, launching a physical activity programme on the back of it. This managed to engage 44% of all employees in the first six months. “That again has played a part in reducing absence and boosting general health and wellbeing,” says Power.

Coming into its own in the pandemic

The department really came into its own during the Covid pandemic and was part of the core team supporting the organisation and was able to demonstrate its value to the business at all levels. “We were doing stuff we’d never done,” says Power. “We went out on a limb for people, putting full shielding support in for those who needed it. Not only that, but we shielded people who had family members in high risk groups. We were really proactive about protecting our staff and their families.”

Senior management in particular saw the value of the department afresh, with Power now briefing the executive team on health and wellbeing every quarter. “I’m fortunate in that I’ve got a chief executive, chief financial officer and HR director who are motivated around wellbeing,” he says. “So it’s not a hard sell for me.”

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KP Snacks and the evolution of occupational health

A survey carried out by Sapio into men’s health, commissioned by PAM OH for International Men’s Day, shows that 16% of men say work provides little or no wellbeing support, compared to just 8% of women.

At the same time, men have experienced other challenges with accessing healthcare. 47% have found it difficult to access their doctor of GP, 56% have experienced days accessing NHS healthcare and 38% have been personally affected by a cancelled operation.

In terms of what men want and need to stay healthy, emotional health, financial worries, weight gain and developing cancer are their biggest worries. However, work has a valuable role to play. Two thirds of men say their employer has responsibility for their health and wellbeing and 68% of men say wellbeing support provided by their employer makes them less likely to want to work elsewhere.

Dr Bernard Yew, medical director for PAM OH says:

“Gendered stereotypes persist, with men often perceived to be less in need of emotional support and more resilient. This means managers are more likely to ask female employees how they’re feeling and coping. Critical to transforming this is encouraging managers to make a habit of conducting ‘check-in chats’ with men as well, to ask them how they are, instead of just talking about targets. Although these conversations can feel a little awkward at first, over a quarter of men (28%) say a supportive manager is important for helping them to stay healthy. Making men feel cared for can also help to retain them, with two thirds of men saying the wellbeing support provided by their employer makes them less likely to want to work elsewhere.”

Below is an infographic summarising data from the survey:

Source: Health at Work Report, PAM OH

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The Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement yesterday set out a raft of tax, welfare and public spending decisions designed to prioritise stability, growth and public services by tackling the cost of living crisis and rebuilding the UK economy.

Amongst other directives, the Statement also outlined measures to boost growth and productivity by investing in people, infrastructure and innovation. This includes additional support to increase labour market participation, reflecting the fact that there are now more working-age inactive individuals than there were pre-pandemic – with 28% of these on long-term sick leave.

Group Risk Development (GRiD), the UK’s industry body for the group risk protection sector, has announced that it welcomes the government’s proposed review, by the Department for Work and Pensions, of issues holding back workforce participation, which will conclude in early 2023.  

They highlight that the group risk industry (specifically those providing group income protection insurance) pioneered vocational rehabilitation in the UK. It was also among the first to understand the bio-psycho-social model in the context of illness and disability, recognising the need to refocus on capability rather than inability long before state provision was refocused in this way.

GRiD understands that work plays a crucial part in promoting mental wellbeing. It’s important for self-esteem and identity, it can provide a sense of fulfilment and the opportunity for social interaction and, for most people, it’s their main source of income.

Speaking on behalf of GRiD, Katharine Moxham said:

“GRiD is keen to support the government’s aims of reducing the number of working-age adults who are “economically inactive” – particularly the record number of those who are economically inactive because of long-term sickness – and believes that group income protection insurance can provide the means of doing this”.

“The workplace has an important part to play in maintaining good health, dealing with ill health at an early stage and supporting employees to remain in work. With the added advantage of access to embedded additional support services such as HR support, Employee Assistance Programmes, case management, vocational rehabilitation, second medical opinion services, nurse-led support, fast-track access to physiotherapy, CBT and other talking therapies, online GP services, health apps and so on, employers with a group income protection policy are well-placed to help with reducing ill-health related job loss.”

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Nine out of ten (92%) of employers are concerned about how the cost-of-living crisis is impacting their employees, according to a survey1 conducted among the membership of GRiD, the group risk protection industry body, on 27 October 2022.

All of the members surveyed (100%) believe that employers are worried about how the cost-of-living is affecting employees’ mental health. Respondents believe the impact on financial wellbeing is the second area of most concern (91%) for employers. Additionally, due to the cost-of-living crisis, the social wellbeing of staff is believed to be a concern for 56% of employers, and physical wellbeing for 35% of employers.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said:

“If we think back to the financial crisis of 2008, mental health was barely on the radar of employers: home and work life were entirely separate entities and few employers would have provided any support, nor would employees have expected it. Roll on a decade or so and it is really positive to see employers recognising the impact that the rising cost of living is having on their staff.

“The figures paint a very striking picture of how the cost of living adds to the mental load of employees. By demonstrating their genuine concern and providing practical help, employers have a real opportunity to engage with their staff, many of whom may not have fully understood or utilised their employee benefits before.”

Employers looking to increase benefits

Ninety-three percent of respondents believe employers are looking to increase benefits or offer additional support to help employees during the cost-of-living crisis, but the research also highlights the possibility of employers’ lack of awareness about the relevant support available within group risk benefits (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness).

Only 12% strongly agree that employers know about the specific support for mental health embedded within group risk benefits, such as counselling for financial stress, and building resilience, etc.

Similarly, only 5% strongly agree that employers know about the specific support for financial health embedded within group risk benefits, such as budgeting and debt counselling, etc.

Offering such support will not only help employees individually but it will also mean a happier and healthier workforce who will be more productive as they are not distracted by personal matters or be absent due to stress and ill health caused by financial strain. However, it’s vital that employers are aware of the support that exists, quite possibly within benefits they already offer.

Katharine Moxham continued:

“There are a wealth of benefits included within group risk benefits that can provide support to huge numbers of employees. Many employers don’t know they are there and don’t realise they are free to access, so they don’t communicate this support to their staff.

“It’s an honourable intention to consider increasing benefits or funding additional support to help employees at this time but employers will also find additional help and support that they don’t need to pay an extra penny for, if they utilise all the support available in their existing employee benefits, and particularly within group risk benefits. After all, employers are not immune from the current economic climate either with costs skyrocketing in many areas: group risk benefits may be one cost centre that doesn’t need to be increased.”

1.     The research was undertaken online on 27 October 2022 amongst 43 members of GRiD, comprising leading figures from insurers, reinsurers, intermediaries and those operating in (or with other interests in) the UK group risk market.

As each individual member supports numerous employers, they are able to glean unique insights into issues and trends affecting workplaces across the UK.

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Neurodiversity refers to the different ways the brain can work and interpret information. It is estimated that between 15% and 20% of the population of the UK is neurodiverse, a term which describes a range of conditions including difficulties with attention, memory and impulse control as well as longer-term conditions like Autism, ADHD and dyslexia.

Neurodiversity matters

As awareness of neurodiversity grows, it’s important for workplaces to look at how they can support neurodiverse individuals to thrive.  This Make A Difference, interactive webinar, sponsored by HelloSelf will include practical support and guidance for employers and colleagues.

Join us on Thursday 15 December from 12.00pm – 1.00pm to explore:

> What we mean by neurodiversity and why neurodiversity matters
> How to support colleagues in getting a diagnosis
> How to make reasonable, practical adjustments to accommodate their needs

Featuring insights from experts including:

• Dr Beverley Flint, Director of Workforce Psychology at HelloSelf
• Dr Lisa Debrou, Clinical Director, Leathes Psychology
• Dr Maria Tuchnott, Senior Clinical Psychologist with specialist training in autism diagnostic assessments
• Caroline Eglinton, Head of Inclusion, East West Railway Company
• Melanie Francis, Chartered FCIPD, Founder, Neuroinclusive HR

The content is designed for:

• C-Suite, HR, Wellbeing, Benefits & Rewards and Business Transformation Leaders
• Talent, Engagement and Communication Leaders
• Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Leaders
• Wellbeing Champions

In other words, anyone who is responsible for supporting the mental health and wellbeing of colleagues, and creating the working conditions under which every individual can thrive.

We look forward to seeing you there. If you can’t make the date/time, go ahead and register anyway and we’ll send you the recording a few days after the session.

You can find more details and register free here.

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