OH gaining popularity as a staff benefit for larger organisations

Occupational health is becoming an increasingly popular benefit within companies employing more than 300 staff, but take-up plummets among organisations that employ fewer employees, according to research.

A study of more than 1,000 employers by health insurer AXA-PPP found that 61% of companies employing 300 to 1,000 workers provide OH services, rising to 71% in firms with more than 1,000 staff. But below this level, provision tails off dramatically, falling to 35% among firms employing 100 to 300 workers, and 12% in firms with fewer than 100 staff.

There is also clear evidence of a growing public/private sector split when it comes to OH.

Among public sector companies of all sizes, 78% use OH services. But the figure for the private sector is much lower at 36%.

More encouraging for OH, however, is the growing profile and recognition of occupational health among the respondents.

OH was ranked the third most popular benefit to offer staff when it came to helping them cope with stress and pressure, at 45%.

Promoting flexible working and taking more holiday were the two most popular benefits.

The survey also found that stressed staff were a problem for nearly two-thirds of small- to medium-sized businesses, yet few bothered to train their managers in how to spot or deal with workers who were under pressure.

Small- to medium-sized businesses rarely assessed stress levels within their workplaces or monitored whether stress was affecting absence, staff turnover or productivity rates.

Across the board, just one in five employers carried out regular workplace stress risk assessments, and only one in 10 did stress audits. Such monitoring was far more common among the larger organisations.

More than a third of the employers had no strategy for tackling stress, and fewer than one in five that did have a strategy had implemented it.
Dudley Lusted, AXA head of corporate healthcare, said: “Most companies are saying they want to do something about it, yet most have not done anything. So there is a role there for more training – a lot of managing stress comes back to training.”

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