Poor workplace wellbeing is costing businesses £554 per employee per year, as employers still need to do more to protect their workers' health

Hayley Kirton
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Office Workers Labour into the Night
Flagging productivity means wellbeing is now a big business issue, says Professor Cary Cooper (Source: Getty)

Staff absences are now costing businesses more than £500 per worker, but employers are still not doing enough to protect their employees' wellbeing.

According to a report out today from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), although employee absences now cost businesses an average of £554 per employee per year, almost two-thirds (61 per cent) of employers approach wellbeing reactively rather than proactively.

The study also discovered that wellbeing was taken into account to a moderate or great extent in less than half (43 per cent) of business decisions.

"With the UK at the bottom of the G7 and near the bottom of the G20 countries on productivity per capita, the way we manage people and create cultures that enhance wellbeing are now bottom-line issues," said Professor Cary Cooper, CIPD president and wellbeing expert. "Prevention is better than a cure; it’s high time that business leaders recognise this and create cultures in organisations in which wellbeing is centre stage and people are happy, healthy and committed to achieving organisational success."

Read more: Here's why your office is so unproductive

Rachel Suff, policy adviser at the CIPD, added: "The cost of inaction is staggering, yet the gains that can be made from a proactive and holistic approach to wellbeing are equally impressive."

The report also highlighted the harmful effects of workaholic cultures, with 38 per cent of employees saying they felt under excessive pressure at work at least once a week and 43 per cent calling long hours the norm at their office.

Cooper said: "We’re still seeing far too many people doing more work than they can cope with, working long or unsociable hours, suffering from technology overload and unable to switch off. Organisations need to take better care of their people and recognise how the demands of work can affect their physical and mental health, as well as their ability to perform well at work."

In light of its findings, the CIPD is calling on employers to reevaluate their approach to wellbeing so that it is holistic, preventative and proactive and to train line managers to better handle staff who might be under stress.

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