Employers should do more for employee health

A survey of over 2000 UK full and part-time workers, commissioned by One4all workplace benefits company, found that employers should be doing more to help employees stay healthier – and that such efforts would be welcomed by the majority of employees.

Work can be a direct cause of ill health

Many employees feel that their workplace has a negative impact on their health and wellbeing. 11% of workers reported becoming ill as a direct result of their work in the year ending May 2015. Even those, who didn’t take time off sick due to work-related health problems, can still suffer from stress or worries that cause lack of sleep. 22% of respondents said that their work causes high levels of stress and further 17% said they were sometimes losing sleep because of work matters. Only 6% felt that their work was good for their wellbeing. This despite the fact that “there is strong evidence to show that work is generally good for people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing”, as explained in the recently published NICE guidelines for workplace health and wellbeing.

Presenteeism is ever present

Employers will be pleased to hear that only 14% of the survey respondents admitted ‘pulling a sickie’ in the last 12 months – although more sceptical managers could suggest that employees might not be entirely honest in their answers to this question. Nevertheless, more than 40% had not taken a single day off sick. More worrying, however, is that 48% had gone into work when ill at least once and 28% felt they had been under pressure from their bosses to do so. Presenteeism is a prevalent issue that can mask an absence problem, especially in challenging economic times when employees are afraid that their absence from work could jeopardise their continued employment. Presenteeism has a number of negative effects at the workplace from poor productivity to spreading infections. Managers, who pressure employees to turn up when sick, are adding reduced employee engagement to the list of downsides.

More advice from employers would be welcome

The good news is that many employees would like to become healthier. 56% of the survey respondents said they would welcome advice and information from their employer on health-related subjects. More specifically, 37% would like to see employers provide exercise information to encourage healthier lifestyles. A futher 26% would like companies to offer help to quit smoking. 23% would welcome weight loss advice from the businesses they work for. Employees’ openness to receiving advice via their workplace is a positive sign that companies should take note of. The sustained health of the workforce is a win-win for both employers and employees and one worth investing in.


If you’d like advice on what workplace health schemes you could offer, please get in touch. To make sure your initiatives are working, measure their effectiveness by implementing Engage absence management portal!