Paul Avis and David Shearman on productivity, mental health and well-being – MAF210

This week my guests are Paul Avis from Canada Life Group Insurance and David Shearman from LifeWorks.

We talk about how mental health and well-being affect employee productivity and presenteeism and what employers can do to help their people.

Welcome to episode 210 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Paul Avis and David Shearman on productivity, mental health and well-being - MAF210

What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • Why productivity is important
  • The effect of poor productivity on businesses
  • The rise in financial well-being support
  • The challenges faced by different generations
  • How workplace employee services help organisations
  • How employers can support their staff

Who are Paul Avis and David Shearman?

Paul Avis is Marketing Director at Canada Life Group Insurance. He’s responsible for all products and communications that go out, as well as working alongside third-party companies such as LifeWorks. Paul identifies benefits that advisers and employers can introduce to their people.

David Shearman has been with LifeWorks for a decade. His role is to work with some of the UK’s leading organisations on health and well-being in the workplace. He educates them on services and solutions they can put in place which will have a positive impact on return on investment for the company but is good for the employees too.

Summary of our chat

Paul says traditionally, employers focused on staff attraction and retention, but productivity is more important. Health and well-being are high on the corporate agenda and mental health is being discussed more openly. Nationally, there’s only been a 2% growth in productivity in the last 11 years, and employees aren’t supported to improve.

1 in 6 people in the workplace struggle with a stress condition which affects their productivity. And 1 in 4 suffers from a mental health problem. 20% of a company’s workforce isn’t productive and feel unsupported. People feel they can’t come to work and struggle with both personal and professional worries that affect their productivity.

Financial well-being is the biggest growth area for holistic support services. LifeWorks helps employers to help staff manage their money and take away the pressures of the day to day cost of living. Many employees are living in poverty, and 21% are earning below the minimum living wage.

Different generations have different struggles. Millennials, for example, are renting more as they can’t afford to buy a home. The biggest demands are on the ‘sandwich generation’ who are looking after both their children and their elderly relatives. LifeWorks support them to find care services and help employers understand their unique challenges.

If implemented properly, workplace wellbeing services and strategies can save organisations millions. LifeWorks has found that for every £1 employers spend with them, they get back £6. ROI from employee assistance programmes can be measured to help companies see the impact they can have on wellbeing and productivity.

Employers have to invest in benefits and workplace services to support their employees. Early intervention has a positive impact on wellbeing. LifeWorks found that staff who engage with their services see improvements in their health and productivity. Advisors need to explain to their clients the value, importance and relevance of support services.

One thing Paul and David would like listeners to take away

Paul says that in an organisation, there needs to be an understanding of the demographics and challenges of their employees. There can be four different generations in the workplace, each with their own challenges.

Above all, when you understand what people are facing, you can make significant changes, often at low or no cost. 97% of employers thought a happy workforce is a more productive one. Therefore, think about how to make your workforce happy, because there’s more to it than money.

David believes that employee assistance services can save lives. Feedback from LifeWorks’ counsellors shows that the work they do can bring someone back from a very dark place.


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