According to the 2019 Health and Well-Being at Work survey produced by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Simplyhealth, employers remain divided in how strategic and proactive they are with regard to employee wellbeing.

Overall, the survey of just over 1000 people professionals found two-fifths have a standalone wellbeing strategy, while a similar proportion are much more reactive than proactive.

Most private sector organisations are taking some action to improve employee wellbeing, but a fifth are not currently doing anything at all.

While commenting on employers' growing recognition of their critical role in improving the health of the workforce, the survey report highlights an increase in stress-related absence and a lack of support for managers, who are increasingly expected to take responsibility for their team's wellbeing.

Despite their having this key role in managing absence and promoting wellbeing, just half of respondents agree that their line managers have bought in to the importance of wellbeing. Only a minority believe their managers have the confidence and competence to support mental health.

Available at https://bit.ly/2UF0b8r, the 19th annual “Health and well-being at work” report also monitors absence management trends, policy and practice.

It records that the average level of employee absence revealed in this edition (5.9 days per employee per year) is the lowest rate ever recorded by the survey (which was, until 2018, entitled the “Absence Management” survey).

More than half of private sector organisations report their activity with regard to employee wellbeing has improved morale and engagement, while two-fifths report a healthier and more inclusive culture.

However, almost a quarter of private sector organisations report that no achievements have resulted from their health and wellbeing activity over the last 12 months, with the same picture evident in the public sector.

Comment from CEO of Health Assured David Price

It is certainly positive to see that more employers are embracing their responsibility to promote wellbeing at work. Studies continue to show that dedicating sufficient time and money into employee wellbeing pays dividends in the long term, by reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity.

However, what is concerning is the dim view that many respondents seem to have when it comes to line managers’ wellbeing contributions.

Employers often view line managers as the first line of defence in spotting and dealing with any issues before they develop into something more significant.

Therefore, it is important that training efforts do not stop once individuals reach senior positions, especially in relation to soft skills that are integral to successful people management.

At the same time, employers should look to reduce any unnecessary burdens that are placed on line managers. This could include redistributing time-consuming administrative tasks, which will free up more time for them to focus on employee wellbeing.

Last reviewed 15 April 2019