CIPD urges employers: link employee wellbeing to business strategy

Raising the profile of employee wellbeing: Professor Cary Cooper calls on firms to create cultures that enhance wellbeing
Raising the profile of employee wellbeing: Professor Cary Cooper calls on firms to create cultures that enhance wellbeing

UK employers must address a “wellbeing vacuum” and make employee wellbeing a bottom-line issue, says a report published today by the CIPD.

The report, “Growing the health and well-being agenda: From first steps to full potential”, calls for a culture change, finding that fewer than one in ten (8%) UK organisations currently have a standalone wellbeing strategy that supports the business strategy.

Employee wellbeing is taken into account in business decisions only to a little extent, or not at all, in the majority (57%) of organisations. Less than two-fifths of organisations monitor the cost of employee absence, which the CIPD calculates is costing £554 per employee per year.

The report calls on the Government to establish human capital management (HCM) reporting standards for FTSE 350 organisations to measure, report and benchmark the health and wellbeing of employees. The Government should take a lead by introducing annual reporting in the public sector.

Today’s report follows the election of wellbeing guru Sir Cary Cooper as CIPD president in December 2015.

“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,” said Cooper.

The report calls on employers to shift from one-off wellbeing initiatives to a proactive employee wellbeing programme based on good people management, leadership and culture.

HR has a key role in integrating wellbeing into organisations’ day-to-day operations, says the report. This includes: convincing senior management; piloting initiatives; and reporting on health, employee satisfaction and organisational measures to build evidence of the need for ongoing investment in health and wellbeing.

The CIPD also calls on the Government to consider wider financial/tax incentives for organisations to encourage investment in wellbeing.

Key findings of the employee wellbeing report

  • Fewer than one in ten (8%) of UK organisations currently have a standalone wellbeing strategy that supports the wider organisational strategy.
  • Almost two-fifths of employees (38%) are under excessive pressure at work at least once a week.
  • More than four in ten (43%) say that long hours working is the norm for their organisation (to a great or moderate extent).
  • Wellbeing 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.

Key recommendations

Employers should:

  • Implement a holistic approach to health and wellbeing that is preventative and proactive. Promote good physical health, good mental health and “good work”.
  • Train line managers to have the confidence and skills to implement policies and handle difficult conversations with staff in a sensitive and effective way.
  • Create a healthy culture with commitment and role-modelling from senior leaders and managers.

Government and wider public policy stakeholders should:

  • Introduce a joined-up policy approach, bringing together government departments, healthcare providers and business.
  • Consider wider financial/tax incentives for organisations to encourage greater employer investment in wellbeing.
  • Establish HCM reporting standards for FTSE 350 organisations on core HCM metrics to help organisations measure, report and benchmark the health and wellbeing of their employees. Embed this into the annual reporting of all public-sector organisations.
  • Invest more in anti-stigma campaigns on mental health, and improve the use of the “fit note” and Fit for Work service.
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