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Aon Benefits & Trends Survey compares mental health-related issues across five key sectors

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Aon Employee Benefits in May 2018 said that its Benefits and Trends Survey 2018 shows marked sector differences in the number of UK employers reporting employee stress and mental health-related illnesses.

Eighty-four percent of employers overall said that they consider themselves responsible for influencing their employees’ health behaviors.

Of the five markets analyzed (pharmaceutical, manufacturing, law & professional services, technology, and finance), the legal and professional services sector showed the highest incidence of employers (82%) reporting an increase in mental health-related illness in their workforces.

The technology sector saw increases in than three-quarters (78%) of businesses. Sixty-two percent of finance sector firms reported an increase, while 50% of manufacturing and 40% of pharmaceutical companies reported increases. Overall, UK employers reported an increase from 55% last year to 68% in 2018.

Of the companies that have dedicated budgets for health and well-being programs, legal and professional services have comparatively the lowest proportion (11%), in contrast to having the highest incidence of employers reporting an increase in mental health-related issues. A third of participants in the finance sector and 24% in the technology sector have dedicated budgets, while 13% of manufacturing firms and 60% of pharmaceutical firms have them. 

The Benefits and Trends Survey showed a 25% increase in the number of organizations with designated funding for their health and well-being programs. Over half of respondents have a specific budget in place or intending to have one within the next three years. Employer investment in proactive initiatives to tackle mental health and stress specifically have increased to 42% from 36% in the previous year. These proactive initiatives include mental health first aid training, which teaches managers and staff how to spot the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues, as well as providing support and guiding a person to seek professional help. 

Thriving at Work, the independent investigation into how employers can better support mental health of people in employment, found that mental health costs, on average, £1,119 – £1,481 per employee per year. This rises to £2,017- £2,564 in the finance, real estate and insurance sectors, compared to £1,473 to £1,998 in professional services, or £841 to £1,421 in information and communication sectors. The report was requested by Prime Minister Theresa May.

According to Mark Witte, head of healthcare and risk consulting at Aon, “There are interesting contrasts between sectors. For instance, 60% of pharmaceutical employers have a health and well-being budget, the highest of the sectors, while only 40% have reported an increase in mental health-related illness, the lowest of the sectors studied. I would caution, however, that although it is possible that there is a correlation between targeted funding and a lower trend of mental health-related illness, there are many other possible factors at play. We also know from a recent CIPD report, that after common illnesses such as coughs and colds, stress and mental ill-health is the second highest cause of short-term absence, and the most common cause of long-term absence.”

To download a copy of the Benefits and Trends Survey 2018, click here (registration required).

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