New Study Shows Less Than Half Of U.K. Businesses Believe They Have A Duty Of Care To Employee Health

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – In the U.K. people here, like everywhere else, are working in tough times, which looks set to continue as people put in longer hours, are more stressed and feel anxious about the future, particularly job security and their financial future. Now, a new report published by leadership training organisation Morgan Redwood shows that less than half of U.K. businesses believe they have a duty of care to employee health, with only 46 percent of firms regarding staff health as an employer’s responsibility. This is in spite of 82.8 percent of companies believing that business performance and staff wellbeing are connected! These latest statistics are in contrast to a previous Morgan Redwood study conducted in 2009, where 95 percent of businesses believed they did have a duty of care to the health of their employees. These latest findings really do indicate a startling shift in employer opinion.

Morgan Redwood’s latest research, Wellbeing and Business Performance, is based on responses from the heads of HR departments or board director level from over 250 businesses across the U.K., from a mix of sectors and a range of company sizes, with two thirds employing over 250 people, and none less than 50. It shows that over a third of companies are concerned about how they look after people who leave. Over half of smaller business wants to inject a sales culture in their operations; almost one in four larger companies are also concerned about this issue. Forty-four percent of the largest businesses and 68 percent of the medium-sized businesses are troubled by absenteeism through sickness.

Staff morale scored six out of ten. Much of this gloom is due to the wider economic picture. However, over one in five say poor leadership at the top is causing low staff morale as staff want to work for well-led, team orientated businesses, that are successful and who invest in their people. These factors are more likely to affect morale than work-life balance or job-flexibility. Staff well-being is seen as inextricably linked to corporate performance by over 58 percent of businesses, rising to 76 percent for the largest companies studied.

In 2014 the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development reported that 40 percent of employers are seeing a rise in stress-related absence and reported mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, so the fact that companies are less inclined to see wellbeing as within their remit of responsibility is perplexing.

One company investing in staff wellbeing is Virgin. In the last couple of years, company founder Richard Branson has introduced some big changes at Virgin’s headquarters, offering employees at its head offices unlimited annual leave and flexible work schedules. Plus its newest business, Virgin Hotels, has built a wellness programme to reflect the cultural diversity of Chicago, where they are based, offering healthy food options for staff and yoga classes in the hotel, have set up a softball league, will sponsor English-language classes for those who don’t speak it as their first language, and have made a serious commitment to mental wellbeing.

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