Where are we now?
The CIPD recently published the results of their Health and Wellbeing at Work Survey 2018. The report looked at responses from 1,021 organisations in reference to 4.6 million employees across the UK.
Here’s a brief overview of the survey’s findings…
Working when unwell
86% or respondents reported witnessing people coming into work when they were ill over the past 12 months. Known as presenteeism, employees attending work when they are sick can actually prove detrimental to a business. Not only can it lead to their illness being passed on to colleagues but when an employee is unwell, they are less likely to work effectively, are more likely to make potentially costly mistakes, and will often take longer to fully recover.
However, despite the negative impact that presenteeism can have on the workplace as a whole, only 25% of employers reported taking steps to discourage it. That’s down from 48% in 2016.
The CIPD found that the most common causes of long term absence were mental ill health (56%), musculoskeletal injuries (50%), stress (50%), acute medical conditions (48%), and accidents and injuries (19%).
Minor illnesses were, as expected, the most common cause of short-term absence within the majority of organisations.
Over the past 12 months, the organisations surveyed reported that they had seen an increase in reported common mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression, with the figures rising from 41% in 2016 to 55% in 2018.
Whilst, according to the survey, only 6% of organisations had a standalone mental health policy, most organisations are taking positive action to manage employee mental health, including phased returns to work and other reasonable adjustments. 51% of organisations reported they were seeking to increase mental health awareness across the workforce, that’s up from 31% in 2016.
Stress related absence
37% of organisations reported seeing an increase in stress-related absence levels over the last year, whilst 8% reported it had decreased.
In response to this, approximately two thirds of organisations are taking steps to identify and address stress in the workplace, including offering flexible working options, and implementing employee assistance programmes, staff surveys, risk assessments, and stress audits.
Technology and wellbeing
When it comes to wellbeing, technology can have both a positive and negative impact. The most positive impact (74%) was that technology enables flexible working, whilst the most negative impact (87%) was that employees now find it difficult to switch off outside working hours.
The benefits of investing in health and wellbeing
The survey identified that investing in health and wellbeing offered a whole host of benefits for organisations, including better employee and morale engagement (44%), a healthier and more inclusive company culture (35%), and lower rates of sickness absence (31%).
What does this mean for HR?
The results have shown that employee health and wellbeing needs to be a priority within all organisations. Whilst many organisations are making positive steps in the right direction, there is still plenty of work to be done.
The HR profession has a key role to play in the health and wellbeing agenda in organisations across the UK, helping organisations to understand patterns of absence and attendance, tailor polices to employee and organisation needs, and build frameworks to promote good mental health.
To find out more about how your organisation can help manage absence, improve employee health and wellbeing, and, ultimately, create a more supportive, inclusive workplace, get in touch on 0191 3055188….we would welcome a conversation with you.