Global firms are failing to recognise the impact employee mental wellbeing could have on meeting their strategic goals, according to new research from AXA’s global healthcare specialists. Thirty-five per cent of corporates stated that they view global mobility as critical to achieving core objectives, with over half saying it is needed to improve operations.
However, the research also showed that global firms are not recognising the impact employee wellness has on their success. Of the assignments that failed, on average 11 per cent were due to employees’ personal reasons, with this rising to 23 per cent in the United States and 12 per cent in the UK. The top three reasons cited for assignments failing included family concerns (54 per cent), assignee health concerns (42 per cent) and the assignee having trouble adapting (28 per cent). This compared to just eight per cent of assignments failing due to commercial reasons – highlighting how employee wellbeing could impact topline growth.
Despite more projects failing due to personal rather than commercial reasons, almost a third (30 per cent) of global firms said they were unconcerned around the risk of international assignments failing due to staff suffering from mental health issues. This attitude differed regionally, with the United States the most concerned, with 91 per cent stating they were concerned or very concerned. However, this attitude was not the same in Europe, with the United Kingdom (42 per cent), Germany (55 per cent) and France (56 per cent) all stating they were very unconcerned.
Tom Wilkinson, CEO of AXA’s global healthcare business, commented: “Even if mental ill health is not immediately responsible for the failure of an assignment, it may still be an underlying problem. Such issues can manifest themselves in other ways, such as physical illness including musculoskeletal problems or by making social situations more challenging. This can adversely impact the extent to which the employee or their family settles into their new environment. If businesses don’t re-evaluate the importance of mental health, it could be a potentially costly mistake to make, as the firms researched confirmed it costs on average over $50,000 to send an employee abroad, and that’s not including their salary. Therefore, investing time and effort in employee wellbeing could pay dividends, and prevent some instances of poor employee health terminating assignments, or the employee leaving the business altogether.”