43% think their employer puts business results ahead of employee wellbeing

More than two in five (43%) employee respondents think their employer puts business performance and organisation results ahead of employee health and wellbeing, according to research by Aviva.

Its Working lives report, which surveyed 1,500 UK private sector employers and 6,000 UK private sector employees, also found that 77% of employer respondents that offer health and wellbeing benefits believe this has had a positive impact on their workforce.

The research also found:

  • 69% of employee respondents have gone to work when they were feeling unwell, and 23% of employee respondents have taken a day off work when they were not actually ill.
  • 42% of employee respondents often feel stressed or anxious at work, compared to 46% of 18-34 year old respondents.
  • 23% of employer respondents cite stress as an issue among their wokforce.
  • 41% of employer respondents that offer health and wellbeing benefits report increased happiness levels among staff, 32% note improved morale, and 30% see an increase in productivity as a result of having health and wellbeing initiatives in place.
  • 13% of employer respondents feel there has been a greater focus on employee health and wellbeing over the past year, and 12% think there has been an improvement in the working environment over the last year, with employees seeming happier and healthier.
  • 65% of employer respondents think the workforce will work more flexibly in five years’ time.
  • 68% of employer respondents that currently offer flexible working to their staff believe their employees are happier as a result.

Dr Doug Wright (pictured), medical director at Aviva UK Health, said: “While every business wants the right level of resource in place, having employees who are unwell at work is a false economy. [Organisations] need to ensure they create a working culture whereby people do not feel pressurised into coming to work when they are unwell, safe in the knowledge their absence can be effectively managed.

“Presenteeism, driven in part by an increased always-on culture, poses a genuine threat to overall business performance through the adverse impact on productivity and morale in the workplace. [Organisations] should ensure they take the lead on communicating proactively to employees that it’s important to take a step back when unwell and it can be in everyone’s interest.

“[Organisations] can also counter such issues by ensuring they continue to explore new ways in which to improve the working experience for employees. Investment in health and wellbeing is no longer a nice to have; it must be looked on as a priority.”