Close to a quarter (72%) of employees surveyed recently have ranked mental health as the most important influence on their personal health and wellbeing, just ahead of physical health (70%).

More than seven in 10 employees (72%) surveyed in April this year have ranked mental health as the most important influence on their personal health and wellbeing, just ahead of physical health (70%).

According to Cigna's latest 360 Well-Being Survey, this indicates a growing awareness and understanding of the impact of mental health on an individual’s overall health, while proving that support for mental health issues is a critical component of any drive for better health and wellbeing.

On that note, the survey further revealed that women were seen to face higher levels of stress - with 85% reporting they were under stress, compared to 80% of men. "Their manifestation of stress also tends to be worse, with disrupted sleep, feelings of depression, and being more emotional all increasing for women, with men less likely to suffer from these symptoms.

What kind of support are employees seeking from employers?

In the initial stages of the pandemic, employers responded by allowing more flexibility in both location and working hours, upgrading technology to ensure better connectivity and allowing meetings to take place virtually.

Per the report, longer-term solutions should now take focus - from flexible working arrangements that enable people to balance their responsibilities, to financial advice and enhanced, long-term access to health and well-being support.

Some forms of support employees are looking for include:

  • Holistic support and resources to manage work-life balance
  • Financial education, coaching and planning
  • Mental health support
  • Set aside time for a weekly check-in/catchup
  • Staggered shifts or start and finish times
  • Onsite clinics at the workplace
  • An enhanced health insurance package that offers peace of mind. This, the report noted, has potential to move from being a 'nice-to-have' for many employees, to a 'must have' that "may well influence career decisions."

The survey also reported an increasing appetite to work from home, with less than a third (27%) of respondents preferring to work in the office full-time. The remainder prefer a full-time work-from-home or hybrid approach. Working from home with limited access to the office is least appealing for those in APAC markets, with only 30% keen to do so, in contrast to 57% of people in Africa, 43% in the Middle East, 41% in North America and 39% in Europe.

Higher uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations see better outlooks on wellbeing

Among markets with high vaccination rates, the UK, United Arab Emirates, Spain and Saudi Arabia, even reported wellbeing scores exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

In contrast, markets where vaccination rates are lower, including Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, had lower wellbeing scores, "despite not yet experiencing surges in cases and still maintaining a relatively lower number of deaths related to COVID-19" at the time of the survey (April 2021).

According to the report, this negative outlook may be linked to the struggle to reach herd immunity in those markets.

“Even as we begin to see reasons for optimism, we are reminded that overcoming the pandemic and its impact on health and well-being requires a comprehensive global vaccination program and uptake. Our survey shows the pandemic has had a particularly negative impact on certain demographics and groups, and understanding this will be vital for businesses and policymakers alike,” said Jason Sadler, President, Cigna International.


About the survey

Cigna, in partnership with Kantar, surveyed 18,043 people, aged 18 and above, in 21 markets in April 2021, prior to the surges in COVID-19 cases in India and Taiwan.

The markets covered in this survey are Australia, Belgium, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, The Netherlands, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US.

Online sampling used respondents recruited from panels that undergo rigorous quality control and the panel composition is representative of the adult population in each of the surveyed markets.

Photo / 123RF

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