Improving our understanding
Every company in Britain is affected by mental distress and ill health in the workforce. Employees are required to deliver ‘more for less’, juggle a busy home life with their working life, stretch their budgets further and generally have to deal with various emotional stresses in their lives.
Mental illness in the workplace is common. According to the Centre of Mental Health, at any one time, one worker in six will be experiencing mental distress, depression or problems relating to stress.
They calculate that the total cost to employers of mental health problems among their employees is estimated at nearly £26 billion each year. That’s equivalent to £1,035 for every employee in the UK workforce*.
*Source: Mental Health at Work: Developing the business case (Sainsbury Centre, 2007)
We’re committed to helping companies manage workplace mental ill health.
Our experience demonstrates that early intervention, with access to talking therapies such as counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), is key to helping employees quickly return to the workplace. The successful approach that we’ve developed over the years means that 75% of people are able to return to work before the end of the deferred period, which is typically six months.
Unlike the NHS and many other providers, the support that we provide as part of our Group Income Protection proposition, Workplace Recovery is vocationally based which means that professional therapists not only help the employee cope with their issues, they also help to reintroduce them back into the workplace.
The government have also recognised the impact that mental ill health is having on welfare costs and the UK economy. We’re actively contributing to their discussions on sickness absence and mental health in the workplace and our message is getting through. We’ve been quoted in the House of Commons, consulted by Ed Miliband and also been invited to share our expertise to help improve workplace mental health in the Department of Health and across the civil service generally.
Giving small to medium sized enterprises (SME) access to better healthcare
We've launched a new online Group Protection system to support the Small to Medium Enterprise market.
Our new ‘online quote and buy’ system will enable advisers as well as employers to get quotes and go on risk for standard Group Life and Group Income Protection schemes insuring 10–150 employees.
This platform enables us to enter the small schemes market in a serious way, offering our award-winning products via our current advisers as well as reaching a much wider audience through our relationships with banks and other advisers across the business.
With other systems already well established, key to our success will be encouraging advisers to use ours. A range of activity will be used to support the launch and ongoing usage, including onsite visits, email campaigns, advertising and social media.
Our Group Protection online quote and buy system at a glance:
- Tailored to the needs of companies with between 10 and 150 employees to insure
- Simple and easy to use system built on latest technology
- Help text to guide users throughout the process
- Same great benefits as our standard products
- All policy documentation available to download immediately
- Dedicated support team
- Opportunities for advisers to grow their business
Jim Islam, Managing Director Group Protection commented, “This system is not just for our existing advisers, but for all advisers wanting to grow their SME business. Our Group Protection products, including the award-winning Group Income Protection proposition, provide potential new opportunities for advisers to grow their business. Similarly, auto enrolment provides an opportunity for advisers to help their SME clients review their employee benefits and offer a wider choice of products.”
There has never been a better time to embrace the group protection market for the business opportunities that it could present. Our system will help advisers spend less time waiting and more time on growing their business. .
Time to change
As a company, we’ve pledged our support for the government’s ‘Time to Change’ initiative, which aims to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental health in the workplace.
We’ve also now partnered with Rethink Mental Illness, a leading charity supporting companies and individuals affected by mental illness and stress. They can help us provide advice and information to help people with mental health problems, their families, friends and colleagues. They also provide training to staff and line managers so that they understand how to spot the signs of stress and how best to handle.
Prevention is better than cure
We’ve built a range of preventative measures to support employers and their staff, with the aim of reducing absenteeism, improving productivity and reducing stress in the workplace.
Our Group Protection customers get access to Workplace Solutions, which includes an employee assistance programme (EAP) with telephone and face to face counselling, legal information and medical information, help for managers and critical incidence support. It also includes Healthy Living, an innovative tool that enables employees to assess, monitor and improve their health as well as smoking cessation support.
Improving mental health in the workplace
We work with a number of mental health charities to inform the services we offer our customers. We asked Rethink to independently review our services to clients and to endorse them if they think we have produced something good. If they think we haven’t got it right then we ask them to challenge us on our approach and help us to continuously improve through training for our employees and customers on the latest tools and techniques to deal with stress. We also have regular policy discussions on the latest mental health issues and run joint branding and marketing activity at key events and seminars.
In September we launched a new campaign, ‘Stress in the City’, aimed at raising awareness of stress and mental health illnesses in the financial services sector. The campaign won praise from Charles Walker MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Mental Health, who, speaking at the Second Reading of the Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill, congratulated us for addressing mental health and tackling stigma.
You can read more here:
Active Workplace recovery
Through our direct campaign and our PR activity we are helping to educate the HR community about the benefits of our Group Income Protection, Workplace Recovery.
We’ve developed our highly effective approach over a number years, and our specialist intervention has proven to be particularly effective at reducing absence and returning people to work. For those unable to return to work, we provide a proportion of their income for a period of time, which could be up until their state pension age.
We’ve been working closely with the government so that they understand more about our successful approach. We’re pleased that in the government’s response to the sickness absence review, they’ve recognised the importance of early intervention and that the four week point is crucial to supporting people to stay in work. We’ve seen how this benefits the employer as well as employees and have long advocated this approach.