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Up to 75% of businesses will slash wellbeing programmes after pandemic

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more employees have used wellbeing programmes at work, however employers are not planning on continuing the programmes once the pandemic has passed.

More than one-quarter of the workforce (29%) described itself as depressed as a result of the pandemic, according to Gartner’s Support Wellbeing in 2021 and Beyond survey.

The survey also found nearly half (49%) of employees who were offered a mental wellbeing programme by their workplace had participated in it in 2020.

However, only one-quarter (25%) of organisations reported they plan to maintain the wellbeing programmes introduced during the pandemic.

Carolina Valencia, vice-president in the Gartner HR practice, said the need for well-being support has skyrocketed since the pandemic struck.

She said: “Organisations, more than ever, must respond to all facets of the individual, from the physical to the emotional, and address some of the new stressors that have emerged over the past year.”

The research found only 19% of employees working for organisations with mental wellbeing programmes reported having access to five or more offerings.

Furthermore, less than half of employees (46%) feel their organisation’s wellbeing programmes are personalised.

Gartner recommended organisations encourage employees to self-assess their wellbeing, as doing so allows them to map out a personal development plan and hold themselves accountable.

Valencia told HR magazine that it is also important HR leaders do not to overlook managers as they are juggling the thoughts and feelings of their direct reports in addition to their own.

She said: "Organisations need to equip managers appropriately so they can support and empower those around them without overlooking their own health and safety.

"HR leaders have told us that after many months of restrictions on daily life, employees are joining COVID-19-specific webinars by the thousands, attending support groups for depression, anxiety and grief counselling in record numbers and discussing topics such as domestic violence and suicide prevention."

Valencia said HR must encourage businesses to carry on wellbeing programmes after the pandemic ends and suggested apps and online programmes could be the best way to do so.

"With the use of these apps, organisations can help employees protect their mental health and remain productive through periods marked by increased uncertainty, anxiety and stress," she said.

Gartner’s survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2020 and surveyed 5,000 employees.

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