Employee mental health tops the challenges facing organisations in 2021


Leading online training provider, iHASCO, conducted a survey of over 400 Health & Safety, HR and Training professionals, to gain a greater insight into the biggest challenges and future issues facing businesses, surrounding COVID-19 and workplace training.

The research uncovered some of the common workplace trends and challenges, particularly for SMEs. The survey was split into 3 categories: Impact of COVID-19, Employee Health & Safety and Workplace training.

Impact of COVID-19

The impact of COVID-19 has been far reaching, with a much greater number of businesses suffering a negative impact rather than a positive one, as a result of the pandemic. Longer term planning has been impossible for organisations as a result of lockdowns and forced closures, as well as having a crippling effect on company finances. The pressures put on businesses have been catastrophic for some, and become a fight for survival. 60.8% of respondents say COVID-19 has negatively affected their business in some way. Businesses have had a lot to think about, not only keeping up with the latest government announcements but also having to adapt plans and respond to the needs of their employees and customers. For some companies (22.8%) this has resulted in an increase/drastic increase in business. However for just under half the respondents it has meant a decrease/drastic decrease in business.

Around half of the respondents found staff absences a particular challenge throughout the pandemic and 39.6% found reopening after the first lockdown particularly tough. With the government’s COVID-secure guidelines there were a lot of considerations for businesses in keeping their staff and customers safe. Other common challenges included staff training (38.2%) and setting up remote workers (33.5%).

Looking ahead to a new year, staff mental health and wellbeing topped the challenges for employers for 2021 for 53.6% of the respondents. Staff health and safety (38.9%), along with budget cuts (28.3%) were also in the top 3 challenges for 2021.

Employee Health & Safety

It is clear that businesses are placing employee health & safety training high on the agenda for 2021, and it will remain a key business focus. According to the professionals surveyed, the biggest challenges surrounding health and safety at work are supporting mental health & wellbeing and developing a safety culture. Business owners and leaders need to be mindful as to how they can achieve this, whilst juggling all their priorities as the new year progresses.

91.8% of the surveyed professionals are aware of the legal responsibilities regarding Health & Safety, HR, and Business Compliance training and rate workplace training 9.3 out of 10 for importance, with 10 being extremely important.

Workplace Training

Organisations have an ongoing responsibility to keep their staff safe and create a positive working environment, in a challenging business climate. Workplace training plays an important role in this for many businesses. 67.4% use eLearning for some or all of their training requirements and see the greatest benefits of using eLearning as being cost-effective, more convenient and the useability for staff to complete it on any device at any time so they have some control of their own learning.

Of those that use eLearning, 77.8% of the surveyed professionals use it for health and safety training courses, subjects which include DSE training, Fire Awareness and Food Safety for example. 45.9% use it for Business compliance training, including GDPR and Cyber Security and 43.6% use eLearning for HR Compliance - which includes Equality & Diversity and Mental health and wellbeing training courses. A further 21.5% use eLearning for soft skills such as computer skills and leadership, along with 5.4% for other training requirements.

In the current climate eLearning is particularly valuable to businesses, especially as face-to-face training has not been possible. The popularity of eLearning is set to continue and grow even further as the future workplace evolves.

What is clear, is that whatever industry you work in, employee mental health and wellbeing is a key concern.

“Over the last few years, employers have definitely been focusing more on their employees' mental health and now it's at the top of the agenda, due to the pandemic”

says Lottie Galvin, Studio Manager & Staff Mental First Aider at iHASCO.

“All organisations have employees struggling with poor mental health and many of those may be suffering in silence. I'm not surprised that the survey has found mental health and wellbeing to be a top concern for employers in 2021, but the focus is in the right place.”

Those who are interested further in the key trends and issues that face businesses this year, can download a free report. It has been compiled by iHASCO’s industry experts to provide an informative and insightful report, and give businesses some inspiration and focus for the year ahead.