A tool designed to help private sector organisations benchmark their approach to employee health and wellbeing has been launched.
The Work Health Index has been developed by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Business for Health, with support from the government and the NHS, and aims to help employers assess the strength of their health offer – from workplace policies and processes to benefits like cycle to work schemes and counselling – and benchmark it against other organisations.
Last week the Office for National Statistics revealed that half a million more people are unable to work because of long term sickness, compared with 2019, with many now unable to work because of long Covid and back and neck conditions. Around 2.5 million working-age people were out of work because of their health in summer 2022.
The CBI claimed that the UK loses 131 million working days a year to ill health, costing around £108bn in GDP.
If people with health conditions were better supported to remain in work, productivity and economic growth is likely to increase, the CBI suggested. It said growing the economy is impossible without a healthy population.
A beta version of the Work Health Index is available and has had input from organisations including Aviva, Hays, Northumbrian Water and Rolls Royce.
It is available to private sector organisations, but will be broadened to include public sector employers in 2023.
CBI president Brian McBride said that organisations faced a great opportunity to enhance employees’ health and wellbeing for the long term, as they continued to recover from the pandemic.
“Labour market resilience is a precondition to growth. Without healthy, productive employees, the UK economy will be unable to achieve the growth it sorely needs,” he said.
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“With the UK staring down a fiscally constrained period, the moment to boost the UK’s preventative health model is now. The Work Health Index is here to help achieve just that.”
Minister for disabled people Tom Pursglove said: “It is clear a healthier, more productive workforce is key to driving growth and tackling inactivity. Government and employers must work together to unlock talent from those who may be facing health barriers.”
Pursglove said the Department for Work and Pensions had allocated additional work coach time to people with health conditions, to help support them into work.
“We’re building on this with schemes like our new £6.4 million online service giving employers free advice and guidance to support staff with health issues to stay in, or return to, work. We are delighted to support the CBI’s Work Health Index which complements this by providing employers with the tools they need to build healthier, more inclusive workforces,” he said.