The CIPD/Simplyhealth health and wellbeing survey highlights the importance of not underestimating the ongoing impact of Covid-19.
The Health and wellbeing at work 2022: Survey report is the twenty second annual report exploring health and wellbeing trends and practices, providing a useful benchmark for how employers are managing employee wellbeing. The majority of respondents to the survey (57%) are from the private sector, with a further 27% being public sector and the rest being from the voluntary sector.
Mental ill health remains the most common cause of long-terms absence, followed by musculoskeletal injuries and stress. Additionally, long Covid was identified by 26% of respondents as one of their main causes of long-term absence. Minor illnesses (colds/flu/stomach upsets etc) was the most common cause of short-term absence, followed by Covid-19 (including quarantining/shielding and self-isolation as well as confirmed cases), musculoskeletal injuries and mental ill health.
Workloads remain by far the most common cause of stress at work, however Covid-19 has contributed both directly (due to increased operational demands and health and safety procedures) and indirectly (for example, due to higher than usual levels of absence affecting staffing levels). Covid related anxiety has also contributed, as has the blurring of work-life balance due to homeworking.
When it comes to managing absence, the report again highlights the important role played by line managers with 70% taking primary responsibility for managing short term absence, and 61% managing long-term absence. Most organisations use a combination of approaches, taking steps to deter absences, using triggers for reviews or restricting sick pay, but also providing support such as changes to working patterns or via occupational health services. Public sector employers are more likely to use stress counselling, while private sector employers are more likely to provide private medical insurance.
Presenteeism (working while unwell) among employees in the workplace has fallen since last year with only 65% of employers being aware of it, down from 75%. However, more respondents reported being aware of presenteeism from employees working at home, increasing from 77% to 81%. This is despite more organisations taking steps to address the problem - up from 45% in 2021 to 53% this year. More organisations are reviewing the use of digital technology and the ability of employees to "switch off" when not working. Leaveism (employees working while on annual leave or unwell) remains prevalent with two thirds of respondents reporting it. However, only 30% of respondents reported taking steps to address the problem.
This year's report is accompanied by both a practitioners guide for HR professionals drawing on key survey findings to identify priority areas for action and a case study report showing how two organisations have developed health and wellbeing strategies to support employees.
The report concludes that to be effective line managers need to have the capability to gain the trust and confidence of those who work for them. Not only does that mean having the necessary time to devote to people management, it also requires line managers to have the confidence and capability to nurture trust based relationships with those that they manage. These are skills that are gained from receiving effective management training, support and guidance. HR professionals should also be attempting to demonstrate the impact of health and well-being activities to secure ongoing commitment and investment from the board and/or senior leaders.
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