According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) annual survey, nearly one-fifth of employers invested in occupational and workplace health strategies by increasing their well-being spend in 2011-2012. Giving employees access to counseling services (65%) and assistance programs (56%) were the most common investments. In addition, there was greater take-up of insurance by private-sector employers, and growth in health cash plans and private medical insurance.
The survey also indicated that the average level of employee absence had fallen compared with last year, from 7.7 to 6.8 days per employee per year. However, almost one-third of employers reported that there was an increase in the number of people struggling into work while ill—the threat of redundancy and concerns over job security contributing to a sharp rise in ‘presenteeism.’
Stress still continues to be the most common cause of long-term absence. Two-fifths of employers reported a rise in stress-related absence, while just one in 10 reporting a decrease. In addition, the level of reported mental health problems among employees, such as anxiety and depression, had also increased, with more than twice the number of employers reporting an increase compared with 2009.
Other Key Findings
Decreases in absence levels were most stark in the public sector, falling to the lowest level in 10 years – 7.9 days per employee per year. But this compared with 5.7 days for workers in the private sector, where absence levels have also fallen since 2011.
Workload is an increasing stress-related problem, with 57% of organizations listing it in the top three most common causes for absence, compared with 48% in 2011. Other factors cited included organizational change and restructuring.
Despite increasing problems with stress in the workplace, nearly one-third of respondents reported their organization was not actively doing anything to reduce it.
The proportion of organizations with an employee well-being strategy or similar has continued to increase, with 55% of respondents reporting one was in place, compared with 46% in 2010 and 2011 and 33% in 2009.
Stress is currently cited as being the most common cause of long-term absence for non-manual workers (30%) and the joint top cause for manual workers (21%).
Organizations that evaluated their well-being spend were more likely to have increased their spend this year – 44% compared with 16% in 2010 and 2011 – and were more likely to predict it would increase in 2013.