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    The complete guide to supporting mental health, wellbeing and absence

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    Where do you start when planning how best to manage employees’ mental wellbeing for the year ahead? 2020 has tested us like nothing in a generation, businesses have conflicting priorities, and there can be so much information to sift through. It’s no wonder grappling with a company-wide approach to mental health, wellbeing and absence management can feel overwhelming.

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    Even given the year we’ve just slogged our weary way through, for some businesses, creating and implementing initiatives, and aligning wellbeing strategies to the company’s wider strategies and policies can be seen as unwanted extra hassle. It’s an attitude that makes it that much harder to prioritise, deliver and measure the success of any plan.

    Of course, companies can decide to be reactive to problems and ad-hoc events. And while this may do the job, it can be both time-consuming and costly to search for the right external providers. Not only that, this papering over the cracks approach barely gets under the skin of any underlying stressors or problems, and does little to prevent problems from happening in the first place – problems that can lead to lengthy sickness absence. And instead of being able to measure any potential return on your investment, you’re watching money leave the business – money that could be better spent elsewhere.

    Your Group Income Protection policy with Unum comes with a comprehensive set of support tools at no extra cost. Here’s our step-by-step guide to using your policy’s benefits in a start to finish approach to employee health and wellbeing.

    Step 1: Get in touch

    Contact us on Pathway@unum.co.uk. One of our Rehabilitation and Wellbeing team will get back to you within 24 hours, and can chat through any stage of our services and approach.

    Step 2: Review and plan

    We can arrange a mental health and wellbeing review. Using the government’s ‘Thriving at Work‘ and the Mental Health at Work Commitment as a framework, we’ll work with you to understand and review your current mental health and wellbeing initiatives. Following this in-depth consultation, we’ll produce a comprehensive mental health and wellbeing report, plus a proposed plan. We’ll also partner with you over the next 12 months, providing follow-up consultations, reviewing progress and implementing solutions.

    Step 3: Get started

    Just 33% of employers have a written policy or guidance to help them reduce stress, and 41% of employers have a more reactive than proactive wellbeing strategy1. Putting mental health and wellbeing on the agenda, and defining your approach is an important part of the process. Prioritising mental health and wellbeing with a well thought out plan or policy demonstrates accountability and sends a clear message about your business’ approach. Check out our ‘Creating a mental health and wellbeing policy’ to get started and we’ll help cement it as part of the follow-up consultations mentioned above.

    Step 4: Prevent and manage absence

    Our absence management service gives you the opportunity to support employees before, during and after sickness absence. Our team have expertise in a wide range of areas, including occupational therapy, occupational psychology, physiotherapy, and nursing. Not only can we help an absent employee make a safe and sustainable return, we can even support an employee who’s still at work, but struggling.

    Our Wellbeing Check provides expert guidance and self-management techniques for employees who may be struggling with their wellbeing – mental, physical, social and financial – and a report with recommendations to promote good health and wellbeing.

    We can provide comprehensive return to work support through a practical plan, created together with you and your employee, and their treating medical practitioner, as well as helping to identify any reasonable adjustments you or they can make to help when they’re back at work. Our absence management service also covers ‘stay at work support’ if you’ve spotted a member of staff who’s still at work but struggling because of a new or existing condition.

    If you haven’t used our services before, we can help embed them in your wellbeing strategy and ensure your HR team or line managers understand who, how and when to refer someone. Remember, we’re here to help!

    Step 5: Get training

    Chances are, our mental health and wellbeing review is likely to have identified certain areas where you can focus training – either from the absence data, trends that’ve been spotted or where the Mental Health standards are not fully met.

    Our highly popular, CPD-accredited suite of training for HR people and line managers can have a great impact on both your employees and your outcomes when aimed at the areas causing concern. Especially when you bear in mind that recent research by Business in the Community revealed only 11% of managers have attended training that focused specifically on mental health2.

    And for your employees, our U-First suite of workshops is specifically designed to improve their resilience and wellbeing. With almost 80% of attendees stating the session had a positive impact on their wellbeing, U-First is a great weapon in your wellbeing armoury.

    If you need immediate or online training, we also offer a suite of CPD-accredited online e-modules in the key areas of absence, including stress, mental health, cancer and musculoskeletal disorders among others.

    Step 6: Digital health and wellbeing tools for all

    Ensuring your staff have access to digital tools and resources is vital to help prevent and proactively manage issues before they become too serious. For example, Help@hand from Unum offers five health and wellbeing services via a single app, including remote GPs. Providing digital support also gives you a quick, simple and effective way to show your employees you care about their physical and mental wellbeing, while receiving real business benefits.

    Step 7: Monthly wellbeing-focused initiatives

    Keeping wellbeing on the agenda, and making sure it’s relevant to the wider world can be hard work. So our interactive Wellbeing Calendar is designed to make it as easy as possible for you. The Calendar can help you plan your physical, emotional, social, and financial wellbeing activities for the year ahead, and includes significant global and UK awareness dates, business-wide wellbeing suggestions, invitations to webinars, podcasts, and a host of other useful resources.

    Taking the first step along the road to workplace health and wellbeing can sometimes be daunting, as can understanding, recognising and setting out the goals you really want to achieve. We’re here to support you every step of the way – no matter where you are on your wellbeing journey – and make sure you get the best possible use of all the proactive prevention support services available to you and your employees.

    To find out more, get in touch with us at pathway@unum.co.uk.

    1 CIPD Health and wellbeing report 2020
    2 Business in the Community 2019 – bitc.org.uk