February 12, 2020
More than 40 percent of workers have a hidden health issue they’ve never disclosed to their employers, with younger employees the most likely to withhold information from their bosses, according to new research. A survey of 1,000 employees, carried out by healthcare provider Benenden Health, revealed 63 percent of respondents aged 23 or under and 60 percent of 24-38-year-olds surveyed haven’t told their employers about a health issue. This is compared to 35 percent of respondents aged 39-54 and 18 percent of those aged 55 or over.
The survey also revealed more than one in 10 workers thought they wouldn’t be hired if they told their employer they had a health issue. Again, younger workers were more concerned, with 12 percent of the youngest age group and 18 percent of 24-38-year-olds expressing concern, falling to three percent of over 55s.
Additionally, more than a fifth of respondents said they had had to lie to their employer about taking time off for a medical appointment and nearly 40 percent didn’t feel comfortable talking to their employer about their personal health.
Benenden Health also surveyed 1,000 small and medium employers. With the research suggesting SMEs would sooner recruit a 55-year-old than a 24-year-old with the same CV, it warned younger workers are already at risk of being overlooked for roles, without having to worry about their health impacting on their employability.
Nearly three in 10 respondents said they would be willing to take a less well-paid job if it had a strong health and wellbeing package in place.
The researchers also examined the role of benefit packages in attracting new recruits to a business. When questioned, half of respondents said a strong health and wellbeing programme would make them more likely to join or stay with a business. Nearly three in 10 said they would be willing to take a less well-paid job if it had a strong health and wellbeing package in place.
Yet 85 percent of SMEs don’t offer a healthcare package for employees above statutory allowances, with 43 percent of these saying they don’t consider such benefits valuable in recruiting staff.
‘Our results are fairly shocking in that so many people still feel they can’t speak to their employers about health issues that may affect their working life, and at times have had to lie about taking time off for an appointment – with young people the most likely to worry about the impact on their employability’, commented Helen Smith, Chief Commercial Officer of Benenden Health.
‘Hidden health issues can impact absence rates, productivity and the general wellbeing of staff and so it is vital that workplaces act now to protect their business interests, as well as their workforce’s, especially if they want to attract young talent into their company.’
She called on businesses to have a clear reporting process for employees to seek support from the senior team to help increase productivity and promote a happier and healthier workforce.
The survey also explored the concerns of workers in the healthcare sector. More than a third of those surveyed said they have a hidden health issue that they have not disclosed to their bosses and six percent thought they wouldn’t be hired if they told their employer they had a health issue.
Benenden Health has issued a guide to managing the health needs of a multigenerational workforce, which is available here.
Image by philm1310