A review of the CIPD: ‘Health & Wellbeing at work report 2019

This year’s results from the CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Wellbeing survey report confirms that “despite overall improvements in employers growing recognition of their crucial role in improving the health of the working-age population, there is emerging evidence which points to presenteeism as potentially more harmful for individuals and businesses than sickness absence”. 

This is according to the CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Well-being at Work Survey report, which was published (April, 2019). 

Analysis of the report based on replies from 1,078 findings indicated that nearly three-fifths of the organisations had seen an increase in the number of reported common mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression among employees in the last 12 months. 

It was also noted that the majority of organisations had observed some form of ‘leaveism’ over the past 12 months, with over a third reporting that employees were using allocated time off (such as holiday leave) to mask mental health illness linked to stress, depression, and anxiety over unmanageable workloads. 

Almost one in ten (9%) of organisations had a standalone mental health policy for employees, and only a third revealed that they incorporated mental health within another policy within the workplace. One in five were in the process of developing a policy, and most were at the very least; taking some action to manage employee mental health on an ad-hoc basis.  

The role of leadership within organisations was also highlighted, with an emphasis on ensuring that employee well-being is taken seriously and further integrated in line manager training and guidance. Interestingly; it was reported that this year (61% compared with 55% last year) of respondents agreed that employee well-being was on Senior leaders’ agendas, it was also noted that an increased proportion attributed ‘management style’ as a cause of stress (43% this year compared with 32% in 2018). 

The summary of finding reported that organisations still struggle and remain divided on how to strategically and proactively approach employee wellbeing. It was noted that Two-fifths have a standalone well-being strategy while a similar proportion are much ore reactive than proactive. And one in six are not doing anything to improve employee well-being.

Professor Sir Cary Cooper CBE President of the CIPD said, “Employers can introduce a suite of exemplary well-being policies and make a serious investment in employee health, but if their activity is not rooted in how people are managed, a supportive and inclusive culture and committed leadership, it will not have real impact. 

“Our research continues to show complexity of people’s lives in today’s modern workplace and how the boundary continues to blur between work and home. Building compassionate workplaces therefore goes hand in hand with acknowledging that complexity and having respect for people as individuals. 

“It is supported by a hard business case showing desired outcomes such as improved relationships as well as higher motivation and job satisfaction levels, all of which can lead to enhanced performance and productivity. 

“Not surprisingly, there is also a strong association with better health and well-being because a compassionate culture is one which engenders trust and openness, and where people feel more confident to discuss any health issues and receive the support they need. 

“Employers who are intent on creating a healthy workplace could therefore benefit from considering how to integrate compassion as part of their well-being strategy.

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