Working well: the rising importance of resilient workforces


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Every person, no matter what function they perform, from the CEO to an admin assistant, has a vital role to play in the business. If one person in the human chain is absent or not performing at full capacity, the impact on effectiveness can be dramatic.

Working well is not a nice-to-have but a critical business success factor – and we are about to see some dramatic changes.

Emerging drivers

While workplace ill-health poses a significant cost to the nation, the cost to individual businesses is far more acute. The average employee now has 7.7 days absence, costing £673 each per annum, according to the CIPD annual survey report 2011. In addition, presenteeism is now far more common in the workplace. As the average age of the working population is set to increase, organisations need to both develop the skills and employability of older people and maintain the health, motivation and capacities of their workers as they age.

The burden on the NHS is growing, the cost of interventions is increasing faster than inflation and waiting lists are starting to rise. Having a reputation for a robust strategy towards employee health and wellbeing will help organisations attract and retain talented and effective staff.

Need for a fresh approach

A reactive approach to employee health is costly and not sustainable. Faced with the financial impact of ill-health, not to mention the increasing obligations of their duty of care, employers should take a proactive approach to the health and wellbeing of their workforce.

Traditionally, companies have focused on the more tangible aspects of health and wellbeing. However, it is widely recognised that mental resilience in the UK workforce will play an essential role in securing competitiveness within the global market place, since positive lifestyle choices can result in improved employee performance. By implementing a proactive and holistic approach, organisations can adopt best practice and drive changes that help empower employees to take responsibility for their own health and well being.

Wellness not sickness

Bupa has always placed wellness - rather than sickness - at the centre of its philosophy. The Business in the Community, (BITC) Workwell campaign, which we have been developing as part of the Steering Group, offers a strategic, integrated and holistic approach to employee wellness and engagement that can help organisations to improve both productivity and profitability. By elevating employee wellness to a boardroom agenda item, identifiable values for both employees and the organisation can be delivered.

The launch of the Workwell benchmark by BITC, this autumn will mark an important step in how businesses can measure themselves against best practice. For the first time, there will be a consistent and transparent approach to tracking how organisations are reporting their employee management and performance. We have piloted the questionnaire and can attest to both its rigour and relevance in driving change.

A resilient workforce has always been important - it is exciting that it is now being recognised as a key part of business success.

Amanda Owen (pictured) is director of employee health, safety and diversity, at health insurers, Bupa.



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