Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of respondents felt that health and wellbeing was either ‘very much’ or ‘somewhat’ of a business priority for the leaders in their organisations, compared to 23 per cent who said it was not on the board-level agenda.
The online poll also revealed that nearly seven in 10 HR professionals believed that health and wellbeing programmes in the workplace paid for themselves through return on investment – an assertion that just 15 per cent disagreed with.
A quarter (27 per cent) of organisations had increased their expenditure on such programmes in the past year, according to the research. Six in ten (61 per cent) of those canvassed said organisational spend in this area had remained the same, while 13 per cent reported a decrease.
The survey of 200 HR professionals also found that 43 per cent felt that the level of employee absence had ‘improved’ or ‘very much improved’ in their organisation compared to last year. One in five (20 per cent) believed it had worsened, while the remaining 37 per cent said that the number of sick days recorded had stayed the same.
“The results of our mini-survey this month are encouraging, showing that leaders really ‘get’ the importance of the health and wellbeing agenda even when there are a host of other demands on their time and their organisation’s finances,” said People Management’s news editor James Brockett. “More organisations are investing in health and wellbeing than are cutting back, and in many cases this seems to be paying dividends in the form of reduced staff absence.”
While PM’s mini-survey provides a positive snapshot of HR perceptions of absence, this month’s CIPD/Simplyhealth Absence Management surveyrevealed a more nuanced picture. Public-sector absence decreased from 9.6 days per employee per year in 2010 to 9.1 days in 2011, found the survey, while private-sector absence had increased from 6.6 days in 2010 to 7.1 days. Overall, employee absence levels therefore remained static at 7.7 days per employee per year.
Government figures estimate that working age ill-health costs the economy £100 billion annually, and in February it launched a major review of sickness absence and the current measures in place to help people remain in work, as part of the coalition’s shake-up of welfare reform.
Jointly chaired by David Frost, former director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, and Dame Carol Black, national director for Health and Work, the independent review is due to report back this autumn, with the date set to be announced shortly.