HR staff warn wellbeing may be slipping down senior leaders’ agendas


The majority (70%) of HR professionals have confirmed that wellbeing is on the agenda of senior leaders within their business; however, this was a drop from 75% last year, according to research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Simplyhealth.

The Health and wellbeing at work 2022 report, which surveyed 804 HR and learning and development professionals, also found a drop in the proportion of HR professionals who think senior leaders focus on mental wellbeing through their actions and behaviours, from 48% in 2021 to 42% in 2022. Similarly, there was a decrease in those who said managers have bought into the importance of wellbeing, from 67% to 60%.

Although health and wellbeing have appeared to slip down the agenda, two-thirds (66%) of those surveyed said they were concerned about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on employees’ mental health, and 24% warned that Covid-related anxiety was among the top three causes of workplace stress in their organisation.

In addition, 79% of HR professionals reported seeing stress-related absence in their organisation last year, rising to 90% among those from large organisations. Meanwhile, 67% said they were aware of some form of ‘leaveism’ among staff, which includes working during periods of annual leave, while 81% have observed ‘presenteeism’, including staff working when ill, particularly among those working from home.

Rachel Suff, senior employment relations adviser at the CIPD, said: “Not only is Covid still with us, it has exacerbated existing health and wellbeing challenges and created new ones, like long Covid. So while the drop may be small at this point, it’s still a concern that some senior leaders are starting to pay less attention to health and wellbeing, particularly when the last two years have proven how important it is to organisational resilience.

“Senior leaders have a defining influence on their organisation’s culture and it’s in their gift to shape an environment where people feel safe to speak up about health issues and seek support.”