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Leaders committed to mental health and wellbeing but still not covering all the bases

Auckland, 25 November 2019 — A new report suggests that while Kiwi bosses are genuinely committed to the mental health and wellbeing of their workers, the help they are providing may be missing the mark.  

The report, Covering all the bases, was published today by Deloitte and the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum and is based on a survey of CEOs, directors and senior executives.

The report found a genuine concern among senior leaders for the health and wellbeing of their people, said report’s co-authors Francois Barton, Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum Executive Director, and Monika Wakeman, Deloitte Director.

“However, the report raises questions about how effectively mental health and wellbeing issues are being managed, including how well leaders are targeting investment and tracking performance,” said Francois Barton.  

“By far the most commonly identified risk to mental health and wellbeing was work demands which was mentioned by 95% of leaders.  However, the most common resource organisations provided to keep people safe and healthy was Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which serves as an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Relatively few organisations appear to be responding to the risks proactively by managing work hours or fatigue,” said Monika Wakeman.

“The survey found high levels of confidence that risks were understood and well-managed. In total, 85% of respondents said the board and executive understood the mental health and wellbeing risks to workers and 71% said the board and executive verified that the resources required to support the mental health and wellbeing of workers were in place.

“It is difficult to understand what that confidence is based on, given that only about half (54%) said they track and report on this topic. This low level of reporting suggests that mental health and wellbeing could be a blind spot for leaders. They may be missing opportunities to support workers and it could mean that some leaders are not meeting their legal due diligence duties to identify and manage risks to workers,” said Francois Barton.  

“Another weak spot appears to be the level of training for managers, to help them identify and support people who are struggling. Only 41% of private sector organisations, and 15% of public sector organisations said they provided specialist mental health and wellbeing training to their managers.

“The report also suggests that our leaders are not always positive role models themselves – with only 73% saying they thought they were ‘always’ or ‘mostly’ role models for good mental health and wellbeing practices,” said Monika Wakeman.

“The level of commitment to improving mental health and wellbeing at work un-covered in the survey was encouraging, as was the willingness of so many leaders to answer the questions with such honesty and frankness. This has enabled us to identify areas where, as a country, we appear to have strengths – such as in the provision of EAP and other support for workers,” said Francois Barton.  

“It also highlights opportunities for improvement - particularly that organisations need to become more proactive in preventing harm to workers in the first place. By adopting additional approaches and strategies, leaders can ensure they are ‘covering all the bases’ to protect their people, and ensure they thrive at work,” said Monika Wakeman.

Key statistics:

· 70% of CEOs say mental health and wellbeing are always considered when setting timeframes but only 45% of HR and H&S execs share that view.

· 71% of private sector leaders say work would always stop if it would harm people's mental health and wellbeing, but only 59% of public sector leaders shared that view.

· 74% gather workers' ideas on how to improve mental health and wellbeing but only 46% recognise wellbeing contributions and achievements.

Covering all the bases: How leaders are managing mental health and wellbeing in the workplace was published by Deloitte and the Business Leaders’ Health & Safety Forum on Monday 25 November 2019.  The report is based on a survey which was completed in September/October 2019 by 140 CEOs, directors and senior executives of mostly large organisations in the public and private sectors.

Media Contact:

Alexandra Grace
Communications Manager
Deloitte New Zealand
04 470 3770

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