Less than half of employers believe they have a duty of care

Just 46% of business leaders regarded staff health as something that was an employer’s responsibility

Less than half of HR or business leaders believe that their organisation has a duty of care towards the health of their employees, a study has suggested.

The poll of HR directors and board-level executives from more than 250 businesses by leadership development firm Morgan Redwood found that just 46% regarded staff health as something that was an employer’s responsibility.

This was despite the fact that 82.8% conceded that business performance and staff wellbeing are connected.

The 46% figure was in stark contrast to a previous 2009 Morgan Redwood study that found 95% of businesses believed they did have a duty of care towards the health of their employees.

Slightly more than a quarter (25.6%) believed that business performance was “very closely connected” to staff wellbeing, with a further 57.2% seeing it as “quite connected”. Just 6.8% regarded performance and wellbeing as “not at all connected”.

Helping staff to achieve a better work-life balance was low on their list of HR priorities, ranking joint tenth, with only 6% of those questioned seeing it as a key aspect of their HR strategy.

Employee wellbeing featured even lower, with just 5.6% of businesses considering it to be a priority, putting it at twelfth on the list. “Attracting better talent to the business” claimed the top spot (39.2%), followed by “reducing staff churn” (36.8%) and “reducing staff costs” (34.8%).

Janice Haddon, Morgan Redwood’s managing director, argued that the “startling” shift in employer opinion was “perplexing”.

“Perhaps employers are putting recruitment ahead of the need to tend to existing employee needs, which means they’ve taken their eye off the wellbeing ball. Businesses need to remember that looking after employees is just as important as striving for new business and growth,” she questioned.

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