The CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Well-being at Work report is now within touching distance of hitting the two decade mark, having celebrated its nineteenth survey in April. The report is filled with the latest trends and insights into the world of workplace health and well-being. HR professionals, and businesses, will be able to translate these findings into their own organisations.

This year’s research saw some key themes come into play, including; absence levels, presenteeism and leaveism, health and well-being activity, and work-related stress. You can download the full report here or, read on for our top five findings:

1. The average level of employee absence has decreased to 5.9 days per year

This is the lowest employee absence level ever recorded by this survey. Certainly a progressive step however, as noted in last year’s report, organisations need to look much deeper than sickness absence levels.

We’re still seeing a rising culture of ‘presenteeism,’ with many organisations doing nothing to discourage this behaviour. Staggeringly, 83% have observed presenteeism in their organisation, over the past 12 months – just a 3% reduction since 2018. Leaveism has also seen an increase. 51% have reported employees working outside contracted hours to get work done, with over a third observing employees use holiday when unwell.

We can’t ignore the likelihood that presenteeism and leaveism is artificially contributing to a drop in sickness absence levels, preventing organisations from addressing the root causes like management style.

2. 43% attribute management style as a cause of stress

When looking at the main causes of stress at work, heavy workloads remain significantly high at 62%. This year, however, management style should be our key focus. 43% of respondents listed this among their top three causes – a huge 11% increase from 2018.

This may not be surprising bearing in mind that less than half of organisations provide mental health training for managers. These findings highlight the link between a competent and confident manager and the role that manager plays in fostering healthy behaviour at work.

3. 61% agree that employee well-being is on senior leaders’ agendas

Encouragingly, this year more organisations agree that employee well-being is on senior leaders’ agendas – an increase of 6%. This is a positive sign considering how many respondents saw management style as a key cause of stress.

Buy-in from senior leaders is critical for tackling presenteeism and leaveism. Their position as a leader and role model helps to set the organisational culture. Those that have implemented health and well-being activity have witnessed better morale and engagement, a healthier and more inclusive culture, and lower sickness absence.

4. Common mental health conditions have increased in nearly three-fifths of organisations

58% of organisations have noticed an increase in conditions such as anxiety and depression. Only 7% have seen a decrease. Those in the public sector, and organisations with 250+ employees, have been found to be the most affected by common mental health conditions.

Reassuringly, 86% of respondents are already taking action to manage employee mental health, introducing initiatives including phased return to work, an employee assistance programme, and access to counselling services. The prevalence of mental health has, in fact, been clear across the board over the last 12 months with our own employee assistance programme showing an increase in counselling and advice calls.

5. 61% use an employee assistance programme to identify and reduce stress

Employee assistance programmes are an invaluable tool for identifying stress, providing workers with direct access to confidential and impartial advice. Similarly to previous years, EAPs remain one of the most common forms of benefit provision overall.

Promoting flexible working, training for line managers, and running surveys or focus groups are also useful techniques.

What’s next?

Our annual survey with the CIPD takes its findings from a base of 1,078 organisations across the UK, in reference to 3.2 million employees. It’s clear that, this year, employee well-being has received increased attention compared to last year, but will we see similar trends continuing into 2020?

The CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Well-being at Work 2020 survey is now open for participation. Complete the survey here.

Simplyhealth Team

Simplyhealth Team

Simplyhealth helps companies, and their talent, perform well.

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