Now in its eighteenth year, the CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Well-being at Work report is rich in data and insights to help HR professionals, and businesses, learn about and understand the challenges organisations are facing around health and wellbeing in the workplace.

This year, we were delighted to sponsor the survey again, and pleased to be invited to join the CIPD’s Policy Adviser, Rachel Suff at the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition to discuss some of the key findings from the report. You can download the full report here or, read on for our top five findings:

1. 37% say stress-related absence has increased over the past year

The report presents some thought-provoking findings around mental health. In particular, that 37% of respondents state that stress-related absence had increased in their organisation in 2018. This is an increase of 6% from 2016. The top three causes of stress-related absence include workloads, management style, and non-work factors such as relationships and family.

Encouragingly, more organisations than before are acting on this, with 68% taking steps to identify and reduce stress in the workplace. Promoting flexible working, providing access to an employee assistance programme, and running surveys or focus groups to identify stress causes are among the most common methods.

2. 86% of organisations have observed presenteeism over the past 12 months

A staggering 86% of survey respondents have observed presenteeism in their organisation, over the past 12 months. And more than a quarter of these have reported an increase in presenteeism during this time. Working when unwell is damaging – employees will take longer to recover from their illness and employers can experience a decrease in productivity.

Despite this being a clear issue for so many organisations, only a quarter of respondents who observed presenteeism say that steps have been taken to discourage it. This is mainly through sending people who are unwell home and providing better guidance for employees.

3. The average level of absence has increased to 6.6 days per year

This is a figure we have been tracking for a number of years. The average level of absence now sits at 6.6 days per employee, per year. This is an increase from 6.3 days in 2016. Absence can be a significant cost for businesses; based on average weekly earnings, absence costs an average of £726 per employee, per year. Whatever size your business is, this could be having a big impact on your bottom line.

The most common ways that organisations manage absence include return-to-work interviews, providing leave for family circumstances, and changing working patterns or the working environment. But alongside these measures, encouraging a preventative approach to wellbeing through health benefits, could be an effective way to manage absence.

4. Three-quarters see flexible working as the main benefit of technology

There are a number of positive and negative effects of technology on employee wellbeing. One of the main benefits identified by survey respondents is that it enables flexible working. Other positive impacts include more effective communication and reduced commute times/costs for staff if they’re working from home. For the business, this can increase attractiveness and accessibility of roles by opening up wider geographical opportunities.

Employers should exercise caution in this area though. The survey reveals a flipside to the impacts of technology advances – 87% of respondents report that the most negative effect is the inability to switch off outside working hours. So, businesses should think about ways they can support employees to redress that work-life balance.

5. Two-fifths or organisations have a standalone wellbeing strategy

It’s encouraging that organisations are being more proactive when it comes to promoting health and wellbeing. The report reveals that two-fifths of organisations have a standalone strategy for wellbeing in support of their wider organisation strategy. Those organisations that have this in place, often have a more integrated approach to employee wellbeing, ensuring all aspects of wellbeing are covered, including physical and mental health.

By having wellbeing as a core pillar within an organisation, you can really foster a preventative approach, encouraging employees to proactively look after their health.

What's next?

We are pleased to announce that the survey for the Health and Well-being at Work 2019 report is now open. Your responses are really important in making the report a valuable and insightful tool for all HR professionals to draw on. If you would like to complete the survey (and be in with a chance of winning a Fitbit HR), please follow this link:

Simplyhealth Team

Simplyhealth Team

Simplyhealth helps companies, and their talent, perform well.

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