HR needs to convince boards that wellbeing really matters

It was good to see that the Who’s Looking After Our Health? survey by Personnel Today and healthcare provider HSA (Personnel Today, 12 September) highlighted the important issue of workplace stress and the damaging effects of the long-hours culture in corporate Britain.

However, the key point that your news story ‘HR fears for employee health as work stress grips nation’ misses is the strategic one.

The survey’s negative findings are not only due to a shortage of occupational health (OH) workers or OH skills in the workplace, but also the failure of the government, HR directors and external experts to persuade company board members that this is an issue that really does matter to them, as well as their businesses.

The simple fact is that wellbeing and stress are not perceived as board-level issues at this point in time, and there are a hundred other things that HR directors get asked about by their colleagues on the board ahead of this problem.

Many board members still maintain the belief that stress is the individual’s responsibility, that it may well emanate from issues outside of work, and that it’s a box the organisation has to tick, rather than an opportunity for improving bottom-line results.

And this is the heart of the issue – research has shown that there is a direct link between wellbeing and productivity, but most boards simply do not see the value in investing time and money to gain the organisational benefits from this relationship.

An extra 10% of productivity or competitive advantage can be unlocked when you get wellbeing right – where employees are motivated, engaged and productive. The most forward-thinking organisations are taking positive steps to do this now, and in 10 years’ time, all organisations will be investing to unlock that extra 10%.

Professor Binna Kandola
Senior partner, Pearn Kandola

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