Despite increased business awareness of the importance of actively supporting health and wellbeing in the workplace, there remains a stubborn ‘implementation gap’ in UK workplaces, which is threatening individuals’ health and long-term business sustainability.
This is according to a new report from the CIPD, ‘Growing the health and well-being agenda: from first steps to full potential’, which highlights that the average cost of absence now stands at £554 per employee per year.
It also reveals that:
• Fewer than one in ten (8%) of UK organisations currently have a standalone well-being strategy that supports the wider organisational strategy.
• The majority of employers are more reactive than proactive in their approach to wellbeing (61%).
• Almost two-fifths of employees [38%] are under excessive pressure at work at least once a week.
• 43% say that long hours working is the norm for their organisation (to a great or moderate extent).
• Well-being is taken into account in business decisions only to a little extent, or not at all, in the majority (57%) of cases.
• Less than two-fifths of organisations monitor the cost of employee absence.
To date, many organisations’ wellbeing efforts have tended to consist of one-off initiatives that aren’t joined up and therefore often fail to have a long-term impact in the workplace. To address this, the CIPD recommends that a proactive employee wellbeing programme – based on the foundations of good people management, leadership and culture – should be at the core of how an organisation fulfils its mission and carries out its operations.
Sir Professor Cary Cooper, CIPD President and wellbeing expert, says: “A workforce that is well works well, but we’re still seeing far too many people doing more work than they can cope with, working long or unsociable hours, suffering from technology overload and unable to switch off. Organisations need to take better care of their people and recognise how the demands of work can affect their physical and mental health, as well as their ability to perform well at work.
“In the fast changing world of work, wellbeing has never been more important. With the UK at the bottom of the G7 and near the bottom of the G20 countries on productivity per capita, the way we manage people and create cultures that enhance wellbeing are now bottom-line issues. Prevention is better than a cure; it’s high time that business leaders recognise this and create cultures in organisations in which wellbeing is centre stage and people are happy, healthy and committed to achieving organisational success.”
To stem the rising cost and prevalence of employee ill-health, the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, is urging employers and policy makers to recognise not just the potential cost of inaction on wellbeing, but also the growing body of evidence that positively links the introduction of wellbeing programmes at work with improved employee engagement and business performance.