Bosses are being challenged to commit five percent of working hours to mental health and staff well-being in the workplace in a major new initiative by global health firm Cigna. 

The 5% Pledge launches following new research of nearly 8,000 employees globally revealed 88% are suffering from burnout, particularly young adults, with 18–24 year-olds suffering the most.

Cigna is calling for CEOs and business leaders to make a public commitment to allocate five percent of their annual working hours to changing organisational cultures while addressing the issue of staff well-being in an ‘action-oriented manner’.  

The initiative aims to support and inspire leaders to place more focus on the mental health of their employees, which Cigna says, ‘needs to come from the top in order to break the stigma of mental health in the workplace and help staff feel safe and supported’. 

Arjan Toor, CEO, Cigna Europe, said:

We want to motivate business leaders globally to take the 5% Pledge so we can create a community of like-minded leaders to work together to drive positive change. 

Bosses need to be part of this transformation as active agents – they need to be seen to use their voice and stature to help all departments feel comfortable embracing the change and to build a supportive workplace, one where it’s sometimes ok not to be ok. 

Firms who take the pledge will receive dedicated mental health support and guidance from Cigna’s experts, including tailored tools and services to help specific employee needs. 

The initiative launches as latest research by Cigna among nearly 8,000 adult workers revealed: 

  • 88% are suffering from burnout, and 84% feel stressed
  • 63% report feeling overwhelmed 
  • 48% say work feels more transactional now with less opportunity to bond with colleagues due to remote working
  • 36% say the rising cost of living is the leading cause of their stress

 Arjan Toor, European CEO of Cigna, will be the first to commit his time, and the company will then be looking to Cigna friends and clients to become a part of the movement to demonstrate their commitment to employee mental health, with the aim of influencing other leaders of organisations to take the pledge.  

 Global mental health campaigner and co-founder of charity Minds@Work Geoff McDonald spent over 24 years in human resources at multinational consumer goods company Unilever, before leaving in 2014 to campaign for mental health. Today, he works with organisations to address stigma related to mental illness to elevate employee health and make it a strategic priority. 

Geoff added:

Covid has really accelerated the conversation about mental health and well-being in the C suite, and has in many ways, ‘democratised’ mental ill health. As we come out the other side of the pandemic, it’s important that organisations recognise the true impact they can have on the mental health and well-being of their people by addressing every fabric of the company culture and creating an environment where employees feel safe and supported. 

I am extremely encouraged to see Cigna’s approach and to take the pledge with them. 

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.