Helping Your People Be Their Best Self

Published: 18th May 2023


The state of mental health in the UK

The role of the employer

Support employee wellbeing with cultural changes

How your employee benefits package can help

Physical wellbeing benefits

Mental wellbeing benefits


“The number of Britons not working due to long-term sickness has hit a record high, with the increase driven by a rise in mental health problems among young people and a rise in back and neck pain.”
 The Independent, May 2023


The State of Mental Health in the UK

It’s a rather bleak headline to start with, and this Mental Health Awareness (MHA) Week, we’ve shared quite a few of them. We’ve been talking about the impacts of financial anxiety on people and businesses, the links between debt and mental-ill health and the importance of giving your employees a safe place to turn when they need help.

It does start to feel quite negative after a while. Still, we can’t shy away from talking about the state of employee wellbeing or the mental health crisis impacting the nation – especially when we offer solutions to help.


The Role of the Employer

One in six employees in the UK has reported having a mental health condition and cited that stress, depression and anxiety can be attributed as a leading cause of sickness absences. This statement alone conveys why mental health should be a top priority for employers. 

A medium-sized business has 50 to 249 employees. If we apply the one-in-six statistic to those two numbers, in a company of 50 people, eight employees will have a mental health condition, increasing to 41 in a business with 249 employees.

The phrase ‘mental health condition’ is broad, covering a range of illnesses - some more debilitating than others. Not every individual will require time off work. In fact, for some, being at work is beneficial. With approx. 16% of your workforce reporting that they have a mental health condition of some sort, it’s essential to build a culture of employee wellbeing and support your employees to be the best they can be in the workplace and beyond.

Employers have a duty of care towards their employees’ mental wellbeing, which you can learn more about here.


Enhance Your Sustainable Wellbeing Strategy


Support Employee Wellbeing with Cultural Changes

The first step to helping employees be their best selves is recognising that the business has a part to play. Next, it’s time to look within and review the workplace culture and employee experience to see if they positively or negatively impact employee wellbeing.

We discussed the importance of flexibility in our blog – Work and Life: Boost Employee Retention by Creating a Culture of Flexibility – and the points we made then are valid today.

A flexible working environment is conducive to better employee wellbeing, but what flexibility looks like is different for everyone. For some, it will be the option to change working hours to suit their personal needs and circumstances. For others, it will be the ability to work remotely or on a hybrid basis.

Run an employee survey to discover what matters most to your people and, ultimately, what will lessen their stress and make life that bit easier. It may mean the business has to make changes, but their positive impact on employees – and, therefore, your organisation - will be significant.


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How Your Employee Benefits Package Can Help

There’s no disputing that employee benefits matter to employees, and here are some key stats we gathered during our research for our Mountain of Lost Benefits eBook, where we interviewed 2,000 employees and 500 HR professionals:

  • 75% of our respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “I feel more loyal towards my employer if I feel my organisation is supporting me”.
  • 76% of our employees said workers feel more motivated when their organisation is supporting them.
“The right benefits – tailored to the needs and demographics of your workplace – can help employees with their physical and mental health, reduce stress, improve focus, bolster creativity, and make them feel productive and passionate about their job.” The Mountain of Lost Benefits


Loyalty and motivation form a recipe for happy employees, able to be and give their best.


 Physical Wellbeing Benefits

Exercise comes with physical and mental health benefits, but unfortunately, the cost-of-living crisis has negatively impacted our lifestyle choices.

The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) lists some of the ways the cost-of-living crisis has affected our physical health: 

  • 30% of adults in the UK have poorer quality sleep

  • 12% exercised less often

Add in the statistic showing that 42% of Brits have cancelled their gym membership to save money, and we’re painting a picture of a decline that’s led to the MHF suggesting we’re heading towards another pandemic.

Help employees to kickstart and rekindle a healthier lifestyle by embedding a range of fitness lifestyle discounts into your employee wellbeing benefits strategy. With our corporate gym memberships, your employees and their families can get up to 25% discount on their annual fees, choosing from over 3,000 gyms, studios, fitness centres, boot camps and sports clubs across the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Download the Acorns Children’s Hospice gym membership case study to discover the impact it’s made on employee wellbeing.


Acorns Case Study Download


Additionally, you can offer a cycle to work salary sacrifice scheme that saves the employee and employer money through tax and NIC savings. Many organisations use these savings to fund other benefits, making your employee wellbeing strategy cost-effective and sustainable.


Mental Wellbeing Benefits

Further to the information shared by MHF on physical health, they also shared the stats below on other areas that are impacting your employees' mental health:

  • 23% meet with friends less often

  • 15% pursued a hobby less often

We can also add financial anxiety stats to this list, notably that one in ten adults in the UK feels helpless about their finances.

Only 2% of employees would feel comfortable discussing their mental health with their employer. We can’t be at our best when burdened by stress or mental ill-health, and seeking help is the first step towards positive change. 

Our Employee Assistance Programme gives employees access to BCAP-accredited counsellors face-to-face, by phone and email, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and includes an online counselling, live chat facility for those who aren’t comfortable picking up the phone.

It’s also home to essential wellbeing resources designed to help employees help themselves. A ‘My Possible Self’ account is included, making lifestyle-tracking solutions, tailored content and crisis support available at the touch of a button.

Sodexo Engage has been championing employee wellbeing for over 60 years, and we’re proud to offer award-winning employee benefits that will help you support your people. We also produce free guides and resources to help HR professionals and employers boost their people and wellbeing strategies.

Arrange a call today and set your employees on the path to being their best selves with Sodexo Engage.




The Independent

HR Grapevine

Mental Health Foundation