Wellbeing at Work

The eighteenth annual survey report from the Institute of Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) examined trends in absence and health and well-being in UK workplaces. The survey of over 1,000 HR professionals provided important insights into one of the most pressing issues of the modern workplace: the health and well-being of people at work.

There are grounds for optimism in the survey with indications that more employers have a standalone well-being strategy in support of their wider organisation strategy, hopefully reflecting the growing recognition that organisations need to take a strategic and integrated approach to people’s health and well-being. Most organisations believe their health and well-being activities are having a positive benefit. There are also grounds for concern. The survey reveals that mental ill health is an even more significant issue for organisations than it was in 2016: over a fifth (22%) now report that mental ill health is the primary cause of long-term absence compared with 13% in 2016, and there has also been a significant increase in the number of reported common mental health conditions among employees in the past 12 months.

Employers’ recognition of mental health as a workplace issue has clearly increased in recent years, and it’s encouraging that the CIPD survey shows the proportion raising awareness of mental health across the workforce has increased from 31% in 2016 to 51% in 2018. The reasons for work-related stress and mental-health-related absence affecting people’s psychological health tend to be external and outside the organisation’s control.

The ageing population means many workers have increased caring responsibilities that can put pressure on their work–life balance, for example, and the wider political and economic climate – such as the uncertainty created by Brexit – can also influence people’s sense of well-being. Further, the survey shows the mixed impact of technology on mental well-being, with 87% of our respondents citing an inability to switch off out of work hours as the main negative effect on employees.

Pays to be savvy

63% of UK consumers have undertaken some form of ‘savvy spending’ since the start of 2018 according to the latest Lloyds Bank Spending Power Report. In the monthly Ipsos MORI survey of over 2,000 bank account holders in the UK, 47% have actively searched for vouchers and discount codes before spending. A quarter (24%) have chosen to spend money with a specific brand because they received a voucher or discount code for it, whilst 18% have joined a mailing list in order to gain access to exclusive deals and discounts.

The Lloyds Bank research has found that women (72%) are much more likely than men (54%) to claim to have used various methods of ‘savvy spending’ to save money. Over two thirds (68%) of women report using vouchers, discount codes, rewards and/or cashback when spending money compared to 51% of men, and a third (34%) of women have signed up to a mailing list or loyalty scheme to gain access to discounts compared to fewer than 1 in 5 (19%) men. Women are much more likely to report that they are saving towards a short (34% vs. 21%) or long term (29% vs. 16%) goal, which may be their motivation to take advantage of these techniques.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, parents are more likely to undertake some form of ‘savvy spending’, with a higher proportion of this group claiming to have used vouchers, discount codes rewards and cashback (68%) than those without children (56%). Those earning over £35,000 (68%) and individuals aged 34 and under (70%) also report using these methods more than their counterparts (54% of those earning up to £34,999, and 55% of those aged 35+).

Away from the make-up of the savvy spender, our research shows that 71% of those who have used the techniques feel they have saved on holidays and days out since the start of 2018. Over half (55%) of shoppers are saving on their everyday groceries and dining habits, whilst just 29% report making savings on their bills.

Take the strain

More than half of people in the UK with debt are struggling according to a new poll that reveals most people take on the strain themselves rather than seek help. The Nationwide Building Society poll of more than 2,000 UK adults reveals that of those in debt, 57 per cent are experiencing debt problems and feel like they are ‘juggling’ their debts. The research was commissioned to encourage people in persistent or problematic debt to ask for help from their building society or bank as early as possible, rather than struggle alone.

Money worries can lead to emotional issues, with the research showing almost one in three (29%) feel stressed, anxious (28%), depressed (20%) and embarrassed (16%) when thinking about the debts they have. The survey also highlighted that more women experience negative feelings about their debts, with more than a third (36%) reporting feelings of stress, compared to a fifth of men (22%). According to the survey, almost six in ten (58%) say they have never sought help with managing their debts. Among those who do seek help, just seven per cent approached their financial services provider, whereas more than a fifth asked for help from friends and family (21%).

While only a small number of Brits with debt have asked for support from their financial services provider, nearly half (45%) of all respondents stated that the responsibility for managing debt should be shared equally between lender and borrower. However, more than one in ten (12%) have used a debt counselling service in a bid to get out of the red.

Act Fast

Traditionally stroke is associated as a condition that affects older people, but in fact one in four now occur to people of working age or younger: that number is set to rise as the working population gets older according to RedArc who work with insurers, intermediaries, employers and membership organisations, to add value to insurance products and employee assistance programmes. RedArc statistics show that 60 per cent of the stroke patients that the organisation treats are between the ages of 40 and 59 – well within the confines of what is considered traditional working age.

With many health conditions and disabilities more prevalent in older workers, employers will increasingly need to support employees to remain healthy in the workplace, and to have strategies in place to ensure a smooth return to work from serious illnesses.

May is stroke awareness month and RedArc advise organisations who currently feel un- or under-prepared in supporting stroke survivors in the workplace helping them to understand the signs of a stroke and the actions they need to take. A stroke occurs when the blood supply is cut off to the brain which can cause some areas of the brain to be damaged or die. The individual can be left with serious physical and mental impairments, depending on where it happens in the brain.

For survivors of stroke, under the Equality Act 2010, an employer has a responsibility to ensure that a disabled employee has the same rights and access to opportunities as able-bodied staff. This may mean that the employer needs to make a number of reasonable adjustments to the individual’s working environment and working practices.