Head of market management says new figures highlights that financial pressures are ’contributing greatly to peoples’ worries’

Insurers and brokers have an opportunity to highlight how group income protection can help employees struggling with mental health amid cost of living pressures.

That was according to Nick Homer, head of market management – corporate risk – at Zurich, who said that financial pressures were “contributing greatly to peoples’ worries”.

It came as new figures released by Zurich earlier this week (22 May 2023) revealed more workers were calling employee helplines asking for support.

In the 12 months to March 2023, Zurich found the number of helpline calls from workers struggling with their mental health increased 22% to 5,142 from 4,200 the previous year.

In the same period, there was also a 22% increase in callers suffering from anxiety (2,176 to 2,676), a 20% rise in workers struggling with low mood (1,084 to 1,308) and a 32% increase in callers suffering from depression.

The figures came from analysis of calls to Zurich’s employee assistance programme (EAP), which provides support to employees of its corporate risk customers.

Homer told Insurance Times: “The increase in demand for support services is an opportunity for insurers and brokers to further highlight how group income protection can assist employees who might be struggling, helping to retain them within, or return them to, the workplace.

“It’s an increasing risk and a major employee risk that insurers and brokers need to highlight to businesses.

“Employers need to be aware of the issue and must take action to mitigate, because a business’s greatest asset is its people.”

Key contributor

Meanwhile, Zurich also highlighted that more employees had called its EAP programme with financial worries in the year to March than in the previous 12 months.

The insurer also highlighted a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research, which was published in April 2023, that showed employees with a mental illness diagnosis faced an average fall in annual earnings of around £2,200.

Homer added: “Mental health struggles are a key contributor to workplace absence and it’s clear from these figures that financial pressures are contributing greatly to peoples’ worries.

“At a time when more people are unable to work through illness than at any time this century, it is in employers’ interest to offer proactive and preventative care to their employees who may be struggling.”