Stark disparities in employer/employee views on wellbeing, finds Simplyhealth survey


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One in three employees does not feel valued by their employer, raising concerns companies are failing to communicate they care about the health and wellbeing of staff, to the detriment of engagement and productivity.

Healthcare specialist Simplyhealth's Engaging Employees Through Health and Wellbeing report, published today, explored the three aspects of health and wellbeing that work alongside each other to contribute to employee engagement - physical, emotional and financial.

The findings have highlighted some stark contrasts between the views of employers and employees. Compared to 14% of employers, 43% of employees do not feel their employer does anything to look after their physical health at work. The same is true for emotional wellbeing: almost half of employees suggest their employer does nothing, but only 13% of employers feel this is the case. Some 62% of employees believe their workplace does not support their financial wellbeing, compared to just 2% of employers.

James Glover, director at Simplyhealth said: "We believe employers who address physical, emotional and financial health and wellbeing could improve engagement and ultimately the productivity of their people. Wellbeing is highly valued by employees and a key driver in their level of job satisfaction, loyalty and motivation. If employers fail to communicate that they care, they could lose talented people as soon as the job market starts to recover." The research also found health and wellbeing has a direct impact on loyalty in the workplace. Three-quarters of employees who feel their employer cares 'a great deal' about them describe themselves as loyal.

In contrast, this drops to just 3% for those that feel their employer doesn't care. Three out of ten of employees whose employer does not care said they were actively looking for work elsewhere, a number seven times higher than those who do feel their employer cares about health and wellbeing. Simplyhealth's health and wellbeing report surveyed 504 managing directors, HR directors and company directors, 204 finance directors and 1,005 workers, using an online fieldwork tool.

The news comes as a separate report based on a survey of 2,000 employees shows 60% of UK employees believe their employer is providing minimal or less than the legal requirement of support in the workplace, with almost half claiming that managers only care about their wellbeing if they have to take sick leave.

This research from Sovereign Health Care, also published today, found 88% of all employees felt organisations should provide more support for personal health and wellbeing, with almost half (45%) confirming they would leave their present employer in return for a better benefits package, even if the salary remained the same.

Russ Piper, chief executive of Sovereign Health Care, said: "In many UK companies, it appears that while pay has remained frozen, employee workloads have increased. This unrewarded extra work can lead to low morale and employee discontent. It would be prudent for businesses to recognise this and consider cost-effective ways to counter this and add value to their own workplace. One way of achieving this is through health-related employee benefits.

"The message from the research is clear; organisations need to review their 'softer' benefits and provide more health and wellbeing support. This will help counteract the increased pressure of the workplace and could result in more productive, higher motivated and happier employees.

Of those surveyed, a startling 85% of managers admitted they do not fully understand the benefits and support they are able to provide staff - a fact that may be contributing to the perception that they don't care.

Let us know your thoughts on the employee benefits and healthcare provision in your organisation by taking 10 minutes to fill in our online HR Reward Survey 2011. You will also have the chance to win £500 worth of John Lewis vouchers.


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