Lovewell’s logic: Should we be concerned about employee wellbeing levels?

Debbie Lovewell Tuck Editor Employee Benefits wellbeing levelsHow well is your workforce? While minor illnesses are a fact of life, what does your workforce’s health look like overall? Have absence rates improved or declined in recent years?

Several pieces of research published in the last couple of weeks suggest that, overall, employees’ health and wellbeing levels have fallen since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Employee engagement firm Inpulse’s Wellbeing index, for example, found that employee wellbeing levels dropped by seven percentage points between 2020 and 2023. It also found that one-third of the 30,000 employees surveyed did not score highly on its wellbeing index, which measures five core elements of wellbeing: work-life balance, support, workload, connection and mental health.

This follows research published by insurer Metlife, which found more than half (52%) of respondents have had to take time off work due to illness or injury.

While there is little employers can do to help employees prevent all sickness or injury-related absences, it would be interesting to uncover what is behind the fall in employee wellbeing levels. For example, could some be reduced in length or avoided all together if health and wellbeing policies and/or benefits were tweaked slightly or better utilised by employees?

Broader workforce issues may also have a role to play. The Inpulse research, for example, also found that employees who feel supported were three times more likely to be engaged at work. Just 28% of respondents who did not feel supported by their line manager were engaged at work.

Working patterns and locations may also have a part to play in employee wellbeing. As many organisations offer different working arrangements than prior to the pandemic, can they be sure that all absences are genuine? And, where these are, is employee wellbeing being impacted by current working arrangements?

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As we move ever further from the pandemic, it will be interesting to see how employees’ wellbeing levels track over time.

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
Tweet: @DebbieLovewell