British organisations could save £61 billion a year by prioritising wellbeing

Vitality has published the results of its annual Britain’s Healthiest Workplace study, developed in partnership with RAND Europe and the University of Cambridge. The report claims that many businesses are failing their employees, with three-quarters of ill-health related absence and presenteeism last year, equating to £61bn, arising from factors such as depression, poor lifestyle choices, and stress – all of which can be targeted through health and wellbeing initiatives. The study also suggests that employers lose, on average, 35.6 working days per employee per year due to health-related absence and presenteeism.

The companies with the best results in the study demonstrated a 30-40 percent reduction in productivity loss linked to ill-health, compared to other companies in the survey. Interventions from business were shown to have a marked effect on employees’ health and these top performing companies all showed common characteristics such as embedding a culture of health, having capable line managers who supported employees and having high awareness and participation in their health and wellbeing programmes.

Mental health was found to be a significant driver of productivity loss, accounting for £38bn of the total cost to businesses last year. Of this, £17.2bn stems specifically from workplace stress, a driver which businesses can address through various interventions and initiatives.


Going the extra mile

For instance, 83% of people who used one-on-one coaching to support mental health and wellbeing found it had an impact and 78% of people said the same for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). 83% of employees who used massage or relaxation classes also said it had a positive impact on their mental health at work.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Employees need to engage with any interventions available to maximise their impact[/perfectpullquote]

However, the research demonstrated that awareness of and engagement with such interventions was low. For instance, while 67% of employees have access to interventions in the mental health space, only 26% of them claim to have knowledge and awareness of the interventions on offer. Additionally, once aware, only 18% of employees actually participate in any of the programmes, demonstrating that not only do employers need to increase awareness, but employees need to engage with any interventions available to maximise their impact.

Commenting on the publication of the data, Neville Koopowitz, CEO at VitalityHealth, said: “Simply implementing intervention programmes is no longer enough. By prioritising and elevating employee engagement in health and wellbeing within the business, ideally to Board level, we can make a significant difference to productivity and the overall success of the business. Not only can this bring about a competitive advantage for companies, but it will ultimately build a stronger and healthier society for us all. With this being such an important and compelling ambition, we will be developing a number of initiatives that will support a healthier corporate Britain in 2019 and beyond.”

Dale Garbacki, Technical Advisor, at Dixons Carphone’s Customer Support Centre in Preston, said: “I’d urge anyone struggling with their physical or mental health to ask for help from those around them and for employers to make sure colleagues know about what support is available. Ultimately, done well, it means people come to work happy, healthy, more confident; that’s good for them and the people they work with and it can only make good business sense. I feel better at problem solving and my positive attitude at work definitely helps me resolve customers’ problems in a much better way for them. I now make a point of smiling at my colleagues as they come through the door.”