Looking ahead to next month’s general election, a study of 500 UK businesses revealed that 19 per cent of employers want the next government to take more action on the wellbeing of employees.
This follows a study from BUPA in January, which highlighted that 85 per cent of UK workers claimed their employer had a responsibility to look after their health and wellbeing. Some 78 per cent of the 1,000 people surveyed would have appreciated further support from their employers.
Both reports indicated that a greater focus on health would result in a more productive workforce. Of those surveyed in the BUPA research, 60 per cent said if they felt happy and well at work, they were likely to be more productive.
GRiD’s results flagged up managing stress (38 per cent), promoting a healthy work/life balance (64 per cent) and introducing more flexible working initiatives (47 per cent) as critical areas that should be focused on from the employers’ perspective.
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The research also stated that many employers were already working on introducing ways of promoting this, including line managers being better-trained in spotting signs of stress and mental health conditions among their co-workers, along with health and wellness promotions.
Katharine Moxham, the spokesperson for Group Risk Development, said: “It’s really encouraging to see that not only do employers recognise the importance of this, but we know they are also doing their best to implement health and wellness support in the workplace. However, what is evident is that employers would like greater support and incentives to be able to do this.”
Roll-out of the referral service offered in the government’s new Fit for Work service started last month, which is expected to help employees stay in or return to work. Employees can be referred to the service following four weeks of sickness for an occupational health assessment.
Work advice is also available for employees, employers and GPs. The government has predicted that this will save employers £70m a year when the system is fully operational, though the total cost of sick pay and associated costs to business is estimated at around £9bn.
Moxham added: “The Fit for Work service brings us to the brink of a new era where greater focus will be placed on supporting employees with health conditions to stay in the workplace. Employers who work with the new service will appreciate where Group Income Protection can help them implement back to work programmes and by giving them access to a raft of further support to focus on prevention as well as cure.”
By Rebecca Smith
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