Retailers risk losing top talent due to poor mental wellbeing support, study shows

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Nearly four in ten retailers in the UK have seen an employee move on because their mental wellbeing wasn’t being looked after, with a quarter losing a key member of their workforce, according to new research from not-for-profit healthcare provider, Benenden Health.

The survey of UK employers and employees revealed that 38% of retail firms have experience of an employee leaving their company because their mental wellbeing wasn’t cared for, with 25% saying they had lost a really valuable staff member, suggesting businesses could face a staff retention crisis as employees struggle with increasing mental health demands.

The research underlined the importance workers in the sector place on mental health provision in the workplace, with half of retail workers (47%) saying they would seek a new job if their mental wellbeing was not being supported by their employer. Some 59% of workers also said a supportive mental wellbeing policy would increase the likelihood of them joining a new company.

Benenden Health, which has launched a new report looking at the impact of poor mental wellbeing on the country’s workforce, asked employees of UK businesses to consider the impact of their mental wellbeing throughout their working life, rather than solely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With nearly half of workers (47%) in the sector saying their job had become more stressful in the last two years, Benenden Health is encouraging retail firms to engage with their employees to understand their mental wellbeing requirements. This could ultimately prevent them from leaving the business, saving on training and recruitment costs and preserving a strong workforce.

The research also highlighted a disparity between how employers’ priorities are perceived. Nearly half (41%) of employees working in retail believe that the mental wellbeing of employees is a big priority for their employer and that the business genuinely cares about the issue, with 61% of employers in the sector saying they genuinely care about the mental wellbeing of their employees.

Yet only half (50%) of employers in the retail sector said that they have asked employees what they would like to see from the company in terms of mental wellbeing support, potentially impacting on the necessary and appropriate provision of resources.

Bob Andrews, CEO at Benenden Health, said: “It is concerning that so many employers in the retail sector have reported losing good staff due to poor mental wellbeing provision, something that employees clearly consider important, especially at such a difficult time for the UK high street.

“The data highlights a missed opportunity for companies to listen to their employees and promote good mental wellbeing within their organisation, as this can have a real positive effect not only on the health of employees but also on absence rates, productivity, recruitment and retention.

“Businesses who do not take an interest in strengthening their mental wellbeing provision also risk missing the opportunity to access a talent pool that would be loyal to a company that prioritises positive mental wellbeing.

“It’s important that employers don’t just talk the talk when it comes to mental wellbeing, but also put things into practice to support their staff. It’s not too late though. I hope these findings will encourage businesses to think again about how they approach wellbeing within their organisation and make their workplace an even better place to be.”

Benenden Health enables businesses to offer affordable, high quality, private healthcare to every employee. This includes round the clock care such as 24/7 GP and Mental Health helplines, plus access to services such as Physiotherapy and Medical Treatment so employees can have peace of mind that they can ask for help whenever they need it. As a not-for-profit organisation, Benenden Health offers support to its 800,000+ members at the same affordable cost of just £11.50 per employee, per month.

For more information about Benenden Health and to download its new report ‘The elephant that never left the office: Why stigma is still preventing employees from telling their boss the truth about their mental wellbeing in the workplace’ at https://www.benenden.co.uk/mwr2020