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Wellbeing not considered essential

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Firms are failing to see employee wellbeing as a key business imperative

A third (33%) of senior HR staff do not think their firm considers employee wellbeing an essential part of good business strategy, according to research from charity CABA.

The Importance of Holistic Health and Wellbeing at Work surveyed 2,000 employees and 172 HR professionals, and found that 51% of HR staff see their employees struggle to concentrate when their wellbeing is poor, 49% noticed more sick days are taken, and 47% saw an increase in mental health issues.

However, 35% of the employees polled said they felt too scared to take sick days, 21% were afraid to arrive late to work even with legitimate reason, and 17% did not want to be seen to leave the office first in case colleagues thought they were not working hard enough.

When it came to what influenced wellbeing, employees ranked financial rewards (25%), their working hours (22%), and the company culture (15%) most highly.

Lucy Whitehall, wellbeing consultant at CABA, said employers have the power to turn wellbeing around in their organisations. “Employee wellbeing is no longer a tick-box exercise, and aligning it with business strategy can pay dividends,” she said. “Setting out the reasons for the strategy – be it client requirement, talent acquisition and retention, or workplace culture – can not only provide a purpose, but it can also help with goal setting and milestones. This enables an organic approach to wellbeing, with the opportunity to change the approach.

“Many negative influences on employee wellbeing can be supported or resolved by employers, just by putting simple, low or no cost measures in place to demonstrate they‘re invested in the employee as an individual, not just their output.”

This latest research from CABA follows stats released by the organisation to mark Stress Awareness Day, which found 35% of staff regularly miss family occasions or personal engagements because of work, with 18% crying at least once every fortnight because of their job.

This research was launched at a panel discussion event, featuring CABA's Whitehall, associate director of ER and talent at EY Sally Hemming, and HR magazine's editor Jenny Roper.

In her speech before the panel debate, CABA chief executive Kath Haines urged employers to tackle H&W holistically.

"Looking at one problem in isolation will not provide all the answers," she said, adding: "Our lives no longer have a clear separation between work and home, which is why businesses need to assess what structures they have in place to continue to attract the best talent."