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Business shifts attitude over importance of employee well-being

September 2015

Fewer than half of the UK businesses surveyed for a staff policies report believed they had a duty of care for employee health.

The researchers found that 46% saw staff health as a responsibility, contrasting vividly with the 95% recorded in a survey six years ago – and with the 82.8% that said this time that business performance and staff wellbeing were connected.

The survey was conducted by the Buckinghamshire-based leadership development consultancy Morgan Redwood, which advises on unlocking potential through executive coaching and other methods.

The consultancy compiled its report, Wellbeing and Business Performance, after interviews with directors and human resources officers at more than 250 businesses from a range of sectors.

The care figures from the survey were reflected in the companies’ human resources priorities. Helping staff to achieve a better work-life balance was regarded as vital by only 6% and was ranked tenth in the priorities list. Employee wellbeing was important to 5.6% and took 12th place.

The findings puzzled Janice Haddon, Morgan Redwood’s managing director, who commented: “[They] really do indicate a startling shift in employer opinion.

“In 2014 the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development reported that 40% of employers are seeing a rise in stress-related absence and reported mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, so the fact that companies are less inclined to see wellbeing as within their remit of responsibility is perplexing.”

The priorities list was headed by the attraction of better talent, top-rated by 39.2%, followed by reducing staff churn (36.8%) and cutting staff costs (34.8%).

Haddon speculates on the cause of the changed attitudes: “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.

“Burnt-out, poorly treated employees will end up becoming detrimental in the long run, so employers need to ensure they allocate sufficient resource to cater to the full spectrum of employee needs.”

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UK & NI Ireland | Health and safety

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