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The Surge of Workplace Stress: A Call for the Circle of Care

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    August 28, 2023

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    workplace wellness, employee assistance program, employees wellbeing, whole health, employers survey, workplace wellbeing, employee wellbeing programme

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In recent months, headlines across both the UK and Ireland have painted a concerning picture: the mental health of employees is deteriorating at an unprecedented rate. The repercussions of the pandemic, combined with the ongoing economic challenges, have left their mark on the workforce. Employers and health plans can't afford to turn a blind eye to these troubling trends.

The Times recently highlighted a survey by PwC, revealing that over half of employers noticed a decline in their employees’ mental health since the onset of the pandemic. Moreover, a staggering 53% cited the cost of living crisis as a damaging factor to employee wellbeing. This is not just a UK phenomenon. In Ireland, 60% of professionals admitted to suffering from workplace-related stress this year alone, as per a survey conducted by the recruitment firm Robert Walters.

But it's not just about alarming percentages. The very essence of how we work is changing. More than 40% of employers reported adjustments in work patterns due to ill health, with many employees cutting down their hours or transitioning to part-time roles. The rise of flexible working patterns and the increased demand for mental health support signal an urgent call for change.

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The Direct Economic Impact

It's no longer just about compassionate leadership or fulfilling a moral obligation. The mental health of employees directly correlates with a company's economic performance. As PwC's survey highlighted, 59% of businesses found that employee health influences their economic results.

Companies are experiencing reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, and, most concerning, a surge in mental health issues among their workforce. The economic repercussions are substantial, with businesses facing increased healthcare costs and decreased overall profitability.

The Role of Employers and Health Plans

If there’s one thing the recent news underscores, it’s the pivotal role of employers and health plans in combating workplace stress. While individual resilience is essential, the responsibility to manage and alleviate stress predominantly lies with HR, senior leaders, and line managers. However, the prevailing sentiment among professionals is that many employers simply aren't doing enough.

The CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark further provides an insight into the UK's largest employers' response. Although almost a quarter improved their performance concerning workplace mental health, a significant 34% still haven't formalised their commitment through a policy statement.

Introducing the Circle of Care: The Whole Person Approach to Care

In the face of this growing concern, a holistic solution emerges: the circle of care. This innovative concept focuses on a 'whole person approach to care'. Instead of just treating symptoms or offering short-term solutions, the circle of care seeks to understand and address the root causes of workplace stress.

This approach recognises the intricate blend of professional and personal challenges employees face daily. For instance, an employee juggling work stress might also be battling personal challenges, such as caring for an elderly parent. The circle of care acknowledges these interconnected issues, offering comprehensive support to help workers navigate both realms of their life.

The Path Forward

For businesses, adopting the circle of care is not just a moral imperative but also a strategic move. A workforce that feels understood and supported is more likely to be engaged, motivated, and productive. Furthermore, by addressing the root causes of workplace stress and other health challenges, businesses can reduce healthcare costs and increase their overall profitability.

The beauty of the circle of care is its adaptability. Whether it's flexible working hours, access to mental health resources, or supportive management structures, businesses can tailor their approach based on their unique challenges and workforce needs.

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For a deeper dive into the circle of care and the whole-person approach to care and how they can be effectively implemented in modern workplaces, download our comprehensive playbook. Equip yourself with the knowledge and tools needed to create a healthier, more productive work environment for all.

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