Our 2014 health and wellbeing survey found that around two-thirds of employers (65%) plan to increase the amount they spend on health and wellbeing in 2015, while 84% of the HR decision makers we surveyed said the organisation took the issue seriously.
This third edition of our research finds a substantial shift in how seriously organisations are taking the issue of employee health. In 2012 only 33% of organisations said they had a health and wellbeing strategy in their business.
Despite the progress there are still many areas that cause concern.
The first of these is our finding that just over a third of businesses (37%) say health and wellbeing is core to their people strategy. With mounting and compelling evidence from the likes of PwC showing the hard financial cost of absence and ill-health – valued at around £29 billion per year in the UK as a whole – it is hard to understand why any employer would not see having fit and healthy people as a core HR objective.
It is perhaps this lack of strategic emphasis on wellbeing that is still stopping the issue being taken seriously by more employers. It leads us to the second area of concern flagged up by the research. Here we found that progress on health and wellbeing is being blocked by indifference from senior managers and cultural indifference.
A third area of concern is the extent to which organisations know how to tackle health and wellbeing effectively.
Our research found stress to be the top wellbeing issue for organisations to tackle. Despite this the majority of employers say they don’t target some of the leading causes of stress such as presenteeism (65%). A similar number (64%) say they don’t give employees the tools to cope with the impact of pressure at work.
If the increased investment in health and wellbeing is to pay a dividend in the year ahead, there are two clear areas for action.
For the 38% of organisations who say their approach to wellbeing is either reactive or non-existent, focusing on a more proactive stance to employee health that identifies and addresses the common issues faced by their people is a priority.
More broadly there is a need for all businesses to consider the extent to which education and communication are critical success factors in creating a culture that values health and wellbeing – something that is vital for organisations to succeed in this area.
Andy Philpott is sales and marketing director at Edenred UK