A recent study carried out by Westfield Health revealed that 79% of employees think their employers could do more to support their wellbeing. The survey questioned UK employees working across a range of sectors including construction, science, business admin and support services.
The results also revealed:
- 63% of employees said they would use wellbeing services if their employer provided them
- 62% believe the Government does not do enough to promote wellbeing
- 70% believe the NHS has an insufficient budget for wellbeing services
- 74% think it would be a good idea to direct some of their National Insurance payments towards improving wellbeing in the workplace
Even though many companies are waking up to the idea of workplace wellbeing and the benefits it can deliver to their business, the message is clearly failing to get through to their staff.
So, what are the areas that employers can look at when trying to improve wellbeing at work?
Sedentary behaviour has become a huge health concern with the NHS linking excessive sitting to an increased risk of being overweight and obese, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and even early death. Many UK adults are spending more than seven hours a day sitting or lying and this can increase to 10 hours or more with age.
Studies have also revealed that 26 per cent of the UK population is failing to achieve 30 minutes of activity in a week. This, in turn, puts their health at serious risk at an annual cost of £20bn to the UK economy.
Doing exercise outside of work isn’t enough. Businesses need to encourage employees to take regular breaks from their chairs and do more to keep them active in the office.
Simple initiatives such as ‘walking meetings’ can have an immediate impact on staff wellbeing.
It’s not just physical wellbeing that employees are concerned about. Mental health is having a significant impact on the economy, and only 14% of those surveyed believe businesses do enough to support mental wellbeing issues.
A 2017 study by Deloitte found that mental health presenteeism, where staff are at work but not able to perform to their full capacity due to mental health issues, can cost businesses up to 3-times more than absenteeism.
ACAS defines mental health as “the mental and emotional state in which we feel able to cope with the normal stress of everyday life.
"If we are feeling good about ourselves we often work productively, interact well with colleagues and make a valuable contribution to our team or workplace.
"Positive mental health is rarely an absolute state. One may feel in good mental health generally but also suffer stress and anxiety from time to time.
"Mental ill-health can range from feeling 'a bit down' to common disorders such as anxiety and depression and, in limited cases, to severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.”
Although talking about mental health issues can be difficult, employers need to do more to encourage communication by offering a safe and reassuring environment, along with providing employees with the support they need to get help.
The IoD’s Head of Policy Research, Seamus Nevin, firmly believes businesses must do more to address the issue of mental health. He said: “All companies should aim to have in place a formal mental health policy – and it is vital that this policy is embedded in the firm’s ethos, not just left on a shelf gathering dust. Bosses need to lead by example, to prevent a ‘culture of silence’, and to ensure that staff feel able to discuss problems should they arise.”
The benefits of wellbeing
Actively supporting the wellbeing of staff helps to ensure they make more informed and sustainable wellbeing choices. This, in turn, can make employees happier, healthier and more productive.
Wellbeing benefits, and the positive working environment they promote, can also help to attract and retain the best talent, ensuring staff feel happy and valued. Some of the most desirable services for employees include health check-ups, dental work, access to a gym and counselling.
In fact, the survey revealed that the top five wellbeing services that employees would like to be offered are as follows:
- Health check-ups (48%)
- Access to a gym (42%)
- Dental work (41%)
- Free fruit (40%)
- Emotional wellness (40%)
Employers also have a duty of care to ensure the wellbeing of their staff under health and safety legislation. It’s laid out in law, as the Equality Act 2010 states that employees with mental health issues must be treated equally and not be discriminated against.
The benefits of wellbeing spread beyond the workplace and can have an impact on every community across the country.
With the NHS under more pressure than ever, preventative measures like wellbeing could help to reduce the strain on services. Indeed, 74% of those surveyed by Westfield Health believe it would be a good idea to direct some of the NI payment towards improving the wellbeing of themselves and their colleagues.
Commercial Director of Westfield Health, David Capper, said: “With the financial pressures of a growing and ageing population, alongside rising public expectations of the level of care they receive, the NHS is under greater strain than ever before. And, with the cost of presenteeism being so vast for UK businesses, doesn’t it make sense for employers to relieve some of the pressure though wellbeing initiatives?”
The issue of wellbeing isn’t going away, and businesses that don’t take action risk falling behind the competition. It would be money well spent as the appetite is certainly there from employees. Indeed, another finding from this survey revealed that two-thirds of respondents would use wellbeing services if their employer provided them.
Capper added: “As business leaders, we need to create a culture where our people’s health and wellbeing is prioritised to drive confidence, capability, inspiration and ultimately prosperity.”
When you begin to truly believe in the physical and emotional wellbeing of your staff it can completely transform the face of your business, improve productivity and create a positive working environment, helping you to retain staff and making you a desirable place for prospective employees to work.
Westfield Health, our preferred partner of Health and Wellbeing Services, can help ensure your employees are well beings. IoD members can access specially negotiated discounts on a range of products and services.
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