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Employees sacrifice wellbeing for company productivity

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Research seen exclusively by HR magazine suggests businesses are not taking wellbeing seriously

Three-quarters (74%) of HR professionals think employees are sacrificing their wellbeing to make a good impression, according to research from wellbeing charity CABA.

The research, seen exclusively by HR magazine, asked 172 HR professionals if employee output was more important than wellbeing. Two in five (42%) agreed it was.

Businesses were found to be putting pressure on staff to work outside of their contracted hours. More than four in 10 (41%) stated that their employer expected staff to work overtime regularly or very regularly, and another 31% claimed there was an expectation for employees to regularly check emails in the evening and at the weekend.

HR professionals are affected too, with 30% reporting that they work overtime on a daily basis, and another 30% working on their days off or at the weekend. Nearly two-thirds (61%) encountered stressful situations several times a week, including 18% having employees take their frustrations out on them at least once a week. A further 33% agreed this happens throughout the month.

Kelly Feehan, services director for CABA, warned that HR could be failing to properly support staff. “HR is there to help champion employees, as well as enable the business to deliver best practice that supports employees and gives them the opportunity to thrive,” she said. “However, it seems the desire to make a good impression or keep up with demanding workloads means HR [professionals] are falling into the same pitfalls as employees.

“This isn’t a long-term, sustainable practice. HR needs to be setting the example throughout the business, and championing a positive work/life balance, so that fellow employees feel empowered to do what’s right for them in terms of the balance between work and rest.”

The research found that employee wellbeing is not high on the corporate agenda, with 33% saying wellbeing strategies are not taken seriously within their business.

Feehan highlighted the impact that a strong wellbeing programme could have. “Well-rested employees are more productive, so for employers to be driving their workforce to the edge of burnout is illogical,” she said. “Investing in employee wellbeing will reap the rewards – taking a dismissive approach is short-sighted and fails to recognise how businesses have evolved.

“Trusting HR [professionals] to help employees thrive, and set manageable boundaries in the process will most likely increase output and more importantly engagement. The success of a business can’t simply be measured on sales; retention, engagement and client relationships should also be judged, all of which can be influenced by how well an employee is feeling on a day-to-day basis.”