Are we turning into a country of workaholics?

Are we turning into a country of workaholics?


The CIPD and Simplyhealth (a leading health insurance company), have joined forces to produce a ‘Health and well-being at work’ report, aimed at exploring exactly that.

The top-line indicates that when it comes to looking after ourselves, we’re not very good at it. Of 1,000 people surveyed, 86% said that they’d witnessed presenteeism (coming to work when they’re sick) in their organisation in the last 12-months.

It’s a figure that has tripled since 2010 (at 26%). A statistic that’s not ideal given that one of the spokespeople flags that going to work when ill is directly linked to exacerbate stress, anxiety and depression.

Leaveism (people working when on annual leave), is also on the up – with 69% saying that they’d seen this over the last 12-months. With nine in ten respondents citing advances in technology as contributing to their inability to switch off out of work hours, it’s perhaps no surprise we’ve fallen into some bad habits.

And yet despite all this recognition, the number of organisations that are taking steps to combat these destructive well-being trends, has halved in the last two years (25% in 2018 are taking active measures, compared with 48% in 2016).

What’s more, only one in ten of those who are taking action said presenteeism and leaveism are viewed as a priority by the board, and less than six in ten (58%) said their company is meeting the basic legal requirements for reducing stress in the workplace.

Further highlights showed that 55% of those surveyed have reported an increase in common mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, among employees in the last 12 months, compared with 41% in 2016. And three-fifths said their organisation has a supportive framework in place to recruit (59%) and retain (60%) people with a disability or long-term health condition. Many respondents are asking the government to provide an online ‘one-stop shop’ providing information and practical tools and more financial support for making adjustments.

Rachel Suff, Senior Employment Relations Adviser at the CIPD, said, “The survey shines a light on the shocking scale of presenteeism and leaveism we have in the UK, as people feel under even more pressure at work. Increasingly the threats to well-being in the modern workplace are psychological rather than physical, and yet too few organisations are discouraging unhealthy workplace practices and tackling stress, which is strongly linked to health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

“In order to encourage a healthy workplace, organisations need to look beyond sickness absence rates alone and develop a solid, evidence-based understanding of the underlying causes of work-related stress and unhealthy behaviour like presenteeism. Without this evidence base, efforts to support employees and improve their health and well-being will be short-lived.”

Pam Whelan, Director of Corporate at Simplyhealth, said “An organisation’s greatest asset is its people and so it’s vital employers recognise the need to support their employees’ biggest assets – their physical and mental health and well-being. It’s concerning to see that levels of presenteeism have risen significantly over the last eight years and more so that fewer employers are taking proactive steps to discourage it.

“The report shows that organisations where senior leaders and line managers recognise the importance of well-being as a whole are more likely to report a reduction in presenteeism and leaveism. Therefore, in order to tackle these unhealthy work practices, we would encourage employers to invest in a wider health and well-being approach that is embedded into their culture and one that supports a preventative approach to employee health and well-being.”

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

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