Business must look to the future of health and wellbeing

Working alongside robots or artificial intelligence could increase stress levels

Employers should consider whether their health and wellbeing programmes will adequately meet the needs of the future workforce, including helping to ease the pressures placed on employees working remotely or alongside artificial intelligence.

According to a report by business psychology firm RobertsonCooper and the British Safety Council, employers need to take a “forward-thinking view” when developing their employee wellbeing strategies, because today’s health and wellbeing risks are unlikely to be the same as those in the future.

The Future Risk: Impact of work on employee health, safety and wellbeing report suggested that working practices likely to become commonplace in the future, such as working alongside artificial intelligence or robots, will place pressure on employees and increase stress. Therefore, specialist training and wellbeing programmes to help increase employee resilience were required.

It recommended that the Government looked at incentives, such as tax breaks, for employers to introduce health and wellbeing programmes.

Occupational health practitioners and HR professionals were also encouraged to place greater emphasis on reducing stress and promoting resilience in their training, and test new working arrangements and wellbeing schemes in consultation with workers and trade unions.

Professor Cary Cooper, founder of RobertsonCooper and professor of organisational psychology and health at the University of Manchester, said that, although employers recognised that workplaces were changing, they understood less about the risks this might pose to staff health and wellbeing.

“My concern is that companies are gearing themselves up to focus on health and wellbeing for the here and now, rather than setting themselves up to be ready for the complexities of the future,” Cooper said, asking, “Are businesses creating a culture that promotes wellbeing, with managers who create positive work environments and employees who take responsibility for their own wellbeing?”

The report also called on the Government to do more to protect the health and wellbeing of gig workers, after critics claimed its Good Work plan fell short of committing to improving the rights of those in the gig economy.

Matthew Holder, head of campaigns at the British Safety Council, said: “At a time when work is rapidly changing, whether through technological innovation or types of employment, there is an urgent need to have a more strategic view on what research says about the future of work and risk, and how these two issues are related.”

One Response to Business must look to the future of health and wellbeing

  1. Greg Clarke 27 Feb 2018 at 10:04 pm #

    Professor Cary Cooper gets a lot of well earned praise and I have heard many great things about him from a number of large corporates. However, there are many employers who I know that would be slightly offended by some of the comments being made. In my experience, there has been enormous strides made by employers in taking an holistic and strategic approach to their employees health and wellbeing and assessing their (employees) needs both now and in the future.
    This is not just within the Private sector. I have an extremely large Public sector client who has a 5-10 year wellbeing plan in place which has factored-in changes such as; percentage growth of remote workers, artificial intelligence advancements, changes in medical condition prominence, rising age profiles, etc,etc.
    Yes, of course there is work to do in some sectors and where employers do not have the advantage of internal health and wellness resource. However, many do and there are many sophisticated models in place right now to ensure employees needs are met going forward.

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