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Solutions for employee wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic

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    March 18, 2021

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    employee assistance program, Employee Benefits, employees wellbeing

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As an employer, you should be able to help your employees to overcome barriers they may face in accessing the right support for their mental health. But do you have the right resources to help them with their wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic and in its aftermath? This pandemic has thrown up unprecedented challenges to employees and employers alike.

We know that our mental health affects how we live our lives: how we think, feel, handle stress and relate to other people. Over the last year, millions of Britons have been learning how to move between their personal and work lives due to an increase in remote working. Yet, many people face various mental health challenges that have put workplace wellbeing at the front and centre of research.
There has been a succession of recent reports demonstrating the high levels of anxiety amongst the UK population due to the uncertainties and direct impacts of the pandemic. In the summer of 2020, the Office for National Statistics reported that almost one in five people was reporting symptoms of depression in the crisis, a rise from almost one in ten from the previous period. These patterns have an inevitable impact on sickness rates and the demand for services provided by, or through, employers as increasingly unwell and desperate people seek urgent help.

Are Employers Supporting Employee Wellbeing Programmes?

According to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management in the US, 49 percent of employees reported having less energy for non-work activities, 42 percent less interest in socializing with friends, 42 percent more trouble sleeping, and 33 percent more alcohol or substance use than usual.

In the UK, The Guardian recently reported on several pieces of research which pointed to a sharp uptick in levels of stress being reported in the UK, including in a major study, led by academics at the University of Nottingham. They looked at the mental health impact of the pandemic and found that in the early stages of lockdown 57% of those who took part reported symptoms of anxiety, with 64% recording common signs of depression.

Employers who care about work productivity and business profits should not sweep these challenges under the carpet but instead gear up to support their people, whose performance ultimately determines whether their business will succeed.

Digital Therapy: the solution for employers to address barriers to care

Acknowledging the workplace wellbeing problem is one thing; finding the best solution is quite another. Mental health issues can have a negative impact on productivity in the workplace and lead to increased costs for organisations. If your employees feel depressed, stressed, anxious, have worries about their health, or have trouble sleeping, it can have a significant toll on their mental health and impact their performance at work.

To alleviate these risks, employers need to provide real-time solutions to address barriers to care so that their employees can get the support their need with their mental health when they need it. Making use of digital therapeutics, such as SilverCloud’s world-leading platform, as a bridge to address barriers to care is one significant way of doing that.

SilverCloud Health has partnered with over 300 organisations, including Virgin Pulse, Mercer and Vodaphone, acting as a full, digital mental health platform. Through the platform, we have helped these organisations to focus on care planning, enhancing wellbeing, prevention and early intervention services to support employees. Alongside these self-care tools that offer positive psychology, resilience, and motivational messaging, employers should also look to deliver early intervention treatments, which can help employees to manage their symptoms and stop existing issues becoming more serious.

Why employers need to support employees’ mental health needs during and after the pandemic

Decrease anxiety and depression in the workplace

The pandemic has thrown an emotional hot potato to employees everywhere. Social distancing has become the new norm. Workers have to navigate through the new challenges thrown at them, including remote work and home schooling. Many employees have experienced high levels of stress, anxiety, depression and burnout at work as a result. Providing access to digital solutions can provide much-needed support to employees and also increase their feelings of satisfaction and loyalty towards their employer.

Reduce the stigma of mental health in the workplace

In a recent survey, only 14% of 2,000 workers polled said they felt comfortable discussing their mental health worries at work, compared with 42% of workers who felt able to talk about physical conditions. Yet, mental illness can be the biggest cause of worker disability or sickness absence from work.

Employees being able to conveniently access digital mental health and wellbeing programmes can help to reduce the stigma of talking about and addressing mental health issues in the workplace. We know that more employees are likely to use these programmes when their use is openly encouraged and used by their peers and other colleagues. The result when they are used is a significant improvement in employee satisfaction and reduction of anxiety, depression, burnout and absenteeism in the workplace.

Decrease in employee turnover

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted employee turnover and the continuation of the UK Government’s furlough scheme has possibly shielded the economy from some of the biggest hits so far – they may be still be to come.

Employees who feel stressed or anxious in the workplace, they are more like to leave their roles. It may be difficult to assess whether your employees are experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety as often they may feel afraid to speak up. They may not share these feelings out of fear of the stigma that can be attached to mental health conditions in the workplace.

Our experience shows us that organisations with established resources to support employees’ wellbeing, have a positive impact of their employee turnover. SilverCloud Health is a useful platform for helping your employees to regard or build their confidence and improve their mental health and wellbeing, even during this pandemic. This can itself help reduce employee turnover.

Lower costs and increase ROI

In the UK, in June 2020, npj Digital Medicine published peer-reviewed research amongst NHS service users of SilverCloud Health that showed that treating anxiety and depression with such therapy delivered strong clinical improvements and recovery that over a 12-month period were 91% likely to be cost-effective.

It was the largest study of its kind worldwide, undertaken with Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. It found that more than half of those with a diagnosis of anxiety and/or depression recovered after three months.

The experience of NHS staff using SilverCloud showed that users generally returned to the platform after their first visit and spent on average around 20 minutes using it each time. They split their time fairly evenly across the four areas: resilience, stress, COVID-19 and sleep, with stress and resilience being the slightly more popular topics. Users were asked to provide feedback which showed they valued the ‘practical’ nature of the programmes offered, the ‘excellent’ content and its ease of use.

SilverCloud Health is a digital mental health and wellbeing platform for your employees. We provide a convenient and efficient way for your employees to receive timely, ondemand, and clinically appropriate support. SilverCloud, can help your employees to remain healthy and productive proactively, whilst supporting them to recover if their mental health takes a hit.

Build employee resilience in your organisation during the pandemic with SilverCloud

As the COVID pandemic has hit workplaces, employers who are providing their employees with access to digital therapeutics are both helping their workforce and their organisation to thrive in these difficult times.

As the workplace wellbeing toolkit has been expanded, many organisations have invested in digital solutions, often to enhance their existing service through providing immediate and remote access alongside their traditional face-to-face employee support, typically offered through their HR teams or external partners. SilverCloud Health has been one such provider, successfully delivering world-leading digital solutions (including support for resilience, stress, sleep, as well as anxiety and depression) for organisations in the public and private sectors, including in the US, Ireland and the UK and has been measuring its success.

Learn more about how SilverCloud can help your employees through our wellbeing platform for behavioural and mental health support.

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