What you need to know about health and wellbeing in 2019

The new CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Well-being at Work 2019 report has landed! This is the second edition of the survey, the ninth year we have worked with CIPD in this area, and the 19th report from the CIPD on workplace wellbeing. The report is based on responses from over 1,000 UK organisations that represent 3.2 million employees – making it an important part of every HR professional’s toolkit for health and wellbeing. Here are the need-to-know headlines at a glance:

Absence decreases to 5.9 days on average

The average level of employee absence is at its lowest since we started recording this measure in 2010. It’s down to 5.9 days per employee, per year, decreasing from 6.6 days in 2018.

Absence in the private and non-profit sectors has seen the biggest decrease, but absence in the public sector is significantly higher at 8.4 days, although this number has also seen a small decrease on last year.

Common ways to manage short-term absence include return-to-work interviews, providing leave for family circumstances, and trigger mechanisms to review attendance. Methods for managing long-term absence also include return-to-work interviews, but also changes to working patterns or environments, and involvement from occupational health.

Almost a quarter say poor financial wellbeing is a cause of stress

Financial wellbeing and mental health are closely linked, and financial worries can affect us all. 24% of respondents say that poor financial wellbeing is a significant cause of employee stress. And it seems to be worse for larger organisations of over 5,000 employees, with 35% of these organisations reporting this same concern.

With just one in seven organisations adopting a strategic approach to financial wellbeing, meeting the needs of different groups, there’s still work to be done to better support employees in this area.

There are a number of initiatives that employers can put in place to encourage better financial habits from employees; matched saving schemes, financial education programmes and employee discounts can all help.

Stress-related absence has increased in nearly two-fifths of organisations

Stress is a main cause of both short-term and long-term absence, reported by 47% and 54% respectively. The top three causes of stress at work include workloads, management style, and relationships at work.

Recognising this growing problem, more organisations than before are doing something to address it – 71% are taking steps to identify and reduce stress in the workplace.

Among the common methods are; flexible working options to help improve work-life balance, providing access to an employee assistance programme (EAP), and offering training for line managers to manage stress.

40% have trained managers to support mental ill health

But, only 30% say managers are confident to have sensitive discussions and to signpost employees to help. Furthermore, just 18% report that managers are confident and competent to spot the signs of mental ill health.

Line managers are often the first to notice changes in an employee’s mood or behaviour. So, it’s important they feel confident to have those discussions and have a robust toolkit to rely on for guidance. EAPs also commonly offer advice for line managers for a range of issues, such as supporting an employee who is experiencing a mental health concern.

However, it shouldn’t just be a line manager responsibility. It’s beneficial for everyone to have awareness of mental health, so we can all spot signs of when someone might be struggling and know how to help them. Mental health champions at all levels of an organisation can be an effective initiative.

Two-thirds agree impact evaluation is important in wellbeing programme development

Demonstrating the impact of a wellbeing programme can be challenging for many organisations – but it’s crucial to show business leaders the value, so they remain bought-in. And, so that development of these programmes can continue.

Encouragingly, three-quarters of respondents report benefits from their health and wellbeing activity over the last year. 52% say they have seen better employee morale and engagement, 40% report a healthier and more inclusive culture, and 33% have had lower sickness absence.

The report reveals a range of metrics used by organisations to measure the impact of wellbeing spend. For measuring organisational success, the metrics include sickness absence rates, staff retention levels, and referral times to occupational health. In terms of health improvements, organisations most commonly measure return-to-work times and incidence of mental ill health or stress.

Get more valuable insights

This report is packed full of more great insights like these. It’s fascinating to see how measures have changed year on year, and all the brand new findings that this year’s report brings. See how health and wellbeing in your organisation compares – download your free copy of the report now.