“This is what employees want and need”
During a speech at the Confederation of the British Industry (CBI) annual conference earlier this month, the organisation’s director-general warned that the wellbeing of staff is becoming a fundamental responsibility for employers.
Delivering the opening speech of the CBI’s Future of Work conference, director-general Tony Danker told delegates that changes in the labour market meant businesses were becoming more responsible for the wellbeing of their staff.
Alongside other trends, such as flexible working becoming mainstream practice, Danker highlighted the issue of employee wellbeing as something staff “want and need.”
“It’s what those who are at home and could be back, want and need. The country needs it too – to have business lead on preventing illness because the NHS just doesn’t have the bandwidth,” he said.
“There is nothing to fear here, because we in business are good at this.”
Detailing that more than one quarter of people who are classed as economically inactive are out of work due to long-term sickness, Danker said this was the highest level for the past 20 years.
“It’s estimated employer-led health interventions, to prevent common physical and mental health risks, could help save £60 billion every year – reducing the impact of ill-health on the UK workforce by up to 20%,” he said.
Danker also noted that flexible working was a “vital” part of addressing current talent shortages, as it is “likely the only way to get those who’ve left to return.”
“It’s hard to see how those now economically inactive will become full-time active overnight,” he added.
Concluding his address, Danker recommended extending the Expenses and Benefits system to include employer health interventions for the most common health risks to staff.
“That’s mental health, as well as back, joint and muscle injuries. And Government can also deliver on its pledge to make occupational health support easier for SMEs,” Danker told delegates.
Following Danker’s comments, the head of market management in Zurich’s Group Risk division, Nick Homer, told COVER Magazine that the move to hybrid working presents new challenges for employers with “many employee health issues less obvious to see – prime examples include isolation and mental illness.”
“Consequently, the role of workplace support including group income protection (GIP) has never been more important and is available to businesses of all sizes,” Homer said.
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