Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing survey highlights that few employers are on course to meet the minimum standards outlined in the “Thriving at Work” report

In October 2017 the Stevenson/ Farmer review of mental health and employers” suggested that all UK employers should meet a framework of six* core standards to improve their workplace mental health.  The report also highlighted that all organisations should be capable of meeting these standards quickly.

However, a recent survey from Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing of more than 150 senior HR and Finance professionals, highlighted most employers remain some way short of this objective.

Just 19% of organisations surveyed had achieved the first core standard, which asks employers to Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan”. Almost half (48%) of all respondents hadn’t yet made any progress towards this standard.

Commenting on these findings, Steve Herbert, Head of Benefits Strategy at Howden said, “Poor workplace mental health has long been recognised as a key challenge for companies. It is the main cause of sickness absence in the UK, with estimates suggesting it costs UK employers between £33bn and £42bn each year.  It is therefore surprising that as we approach the two-year anniversary of the Stevenson/Farmer review, only a fifth of employers have taken the first steps towards producing a concrete plan to tackle this important issue.

The first core standard is a vital milestone for any organisation serious about improving their workforce mental health.  The fact that so few employers have yet achieved even this level of compliance with the recommendations is indicative of the challenges employers perceive in tackling this often-sensitive issue.”

The survey also found that fewer than 1 in 10 of employers had met all six of the suggested core standards.  On a more promising note, most respondents indicated that some action was at least underway, with just 16% admitting to no progress at all.

Herbert continued, “Our experience suggests employers are very keen to take action in this area, but often lack both the confidence and support to achieve this aim.  We would strongly encourage more organisations to urgently seek professional assistance in the planning and implementing of a robust workplace mental health plan and solution.

“There are many tools available for employers today through a wide range of Employee Benefits offerings that can help ensure mental health at work plans are truly effective. We also want to remind employers and employees that many are now accessible 24 hours a day through online apps.”



*In October 2017 the “Stevenson/ Farmer review of mental health and employers” (entitled “Thriving at Work”) suggested that all organisations are capable of implementing the following mental health core standards quickly:

  • Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan
  • Develop mental health awareness among employees
  • Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling
  • Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.
  • Provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work life balance and opportunities for development
  • Promote effective people management through line managers and supervisors