The CIPD is embarking on a long-term project on employee health and well-being. We think that HR has a vital role to play in creating healthier workplaces.

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The world of work is changing fast.

People are living and working longer, increasingly caring for their children and parents. There's growing pressure to do more with less and technology is keeping us switched on, enabling us to work wherever and whenever we choose.

With the growing awareness of the importance of well-being and the impact of poor mental and physical health, organisations are facing greater responsibility for the well-being of their employees.

Sickness absence costs the UK economy over 14 billion pounds a year. That's 554 pounds per employee.

Organisations that ignore employee well-being risk absenteeism, poor performance, and higher costs.

But well-being isn't just about fixing problems, it's about creating opportunities and generating long-term value.

So what do we mean by well-being? What an effective health and well-being programme looks like will depend on the needs of the organisation and its people, but it's likely to include health promotion, a good working environment, flexible working, positive relationships, opportunities for career development and a healthy management style.

Well-being creates workplaces which support health and happiness so that people can flourish and reach their potential benefiting themselves and the organisation.

So why do so few companies recognise the importance of well-being?

For businesses, attracting the right talent is essential, but making sure people are happy, healthy and engaged is fundamental to sustainable business performance.

Investing in well-being leads to increased resilience, greater innovation and higher productivity.

It makes good business sense.

But well-being initiatives often fall short of their potential because they stand alone, isolated from the everyday business, when to gain real benefit well-being must be integrated throughout an organisation, embedded in its culture, its leadership and its people management.

The HR profession is in a unique position to drive this agenda, to understand the needs of both workforce and organisation, and to deliver the benefits of well-being throughout the business.

Find out how HR can develop organisations with well-being at their core for happier, healthier, sustainable business.

Growing the health and well-being agenda: from first steps to full potential

Our positioning report builds on the research and guidance that the CIPD and others have already published and sets out key policy calls for employers and government. It includes a case study about the health and well-being programme at South Liverpool Homes, which is fully integrated into the business.

This report reviews the extent to which well-being considerations are integrated into UK organisations and highlights future priorities for the HR profession. It looks at how the changing nature of work, the workforce and the workplace is making a focus on individual well-being even more critical to broader organisational health and well-being.

In our collection of 14 thought pieces experts reflect on the business case for well-being, turning theory into practice, measuring employee well-being and the need to focus on good mental health in the workplace.

Part 1: Well-being: good for employees, good for business?

  • Promoting well-being needs a different approach to human resource management by David Guest, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Human Resource Management, King’s College, London.
  • Building the business case for well-being by John Hamilton, Head of Safety, Health and Well-being.
  • Happier workers, higher profits by Alex Bryson, Professor of Quantitative Social Science, UCL, and a visiting research fellow at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. John Forth and Lucy Stokes are at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

Part 2: Turning the well-being theory into practice

  • Addressing the stubborn implementation gap by Jill Miller, PhD, Research Adviser, and Rachel Suff, Public Policy Adviser (Employment Relations), CIPD.
  • ‘Readiness’ – the secret to getting health and well-being right inside your business by Sir Cary Cooper CBE, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health, Manchester Business School, and Founding Director of Robertson Cooper Ltd, and Ben Moss, Managing Director of Robertson Cooper and Good Day at Work.
  • Healthy organisations, healthy leadership and management, healthy employees … for healthy performance by Emma Donaldson-Feilder and Rachel Lewis, Directors of Affinity Health at Work.
  • Cafcass: a case study on building a culture of health and well-being by James Hyde, Head of HR, Cafcass.
  • Worker well-being – with a purpose by Paul Dolan, Professor of Behavioural Science, with Agnieszka Zbieranska, Research Assistant, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Part 3: Measuring employee well-being

  • Well-being reporting: is it time to truly recognise the value of well-being? by Edward Houghton, Research Adviser, CIPD.
  • Engagement and well-being: are they linked? by Katie Bailey, Professor of Management, University of Sussex.
  • Is working harder and smarter good for you? by Dr Chidiebere Ogbonnaya, Research Fellow in Quantitative Social Science for the Eastern Academic Research Consortium, and Karina Nielsen, Professor of Work and Organisational Psychology, University of East Anglia.

Part 4: Good mental health is everyone’s business

  • Walking the tightrope: why work should be more than just a safety net when our mental health is at risk by Adrian Wakeling, Policy Analyst, Acas.
  • Fostering a mentally healthy workplace culture by Paul Farmer, Chief Executive, Mind.
  • The importance of the workplace in achieving one agenda for mental and physical health by Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk.

Case study video: South Liverpool Homes

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South Liverpool Homes case study

My name's Colin Gibson. I'm the head of HR and OD for the SLH Group which is the social landlord based in Liverpool.

Employee engagement is really important to us. A key strand of employee engagement is our well-being offer to our colleagues. We realised through our colleague engagement survey that people wanted a more personalised well-being service, rather than one size fits all. So what we decided to do was set up working groups with representatives across the organisation, speak to our staff care forum, and find out what people really wanted.

As a result of that we came up with a well-being offer under the banner of Every Person Positive. The well-being offer consisted of a number of different initiatives, and they included, changes to policies and procedures, with regard to our core flexitime. We reduced that from a four o'clock finish to a three o'clock finish, and that enabled people with young children in local schools to pick their children up from school, once or twice a week, which helped their well-being.

Also what we decided to do was concentrate on physical and nutritional exercise. So what we did was we introduced soup makers, smoothie makers, a baked potato oven, and people were making soups in the office. Different teams would take turns every day; we would have competitions to see who would come up with the best and most innovative soup.

One of the things we came up with was a Life Coach. Kate Elliot was our life coach, and she came to our well-being day that we hold once a year.

As a result of Kate coming into the organisation, people's lives really were transformed. Kate would speak to people, about different issues they have in their life, whether that be wanting to lose weight, whether that be giving up smoking, whether that be dealing with stress, or perhaps a bereavement in the family. And what we found was, with Kate in the organisation, a number of people came to us and said how happy they were and that Kate had helped them in many ways.

In the office we have regular debates now in terms of nutrition, about what's better for you couscous or quinoa. People drink coconut water, coconut milk. It's totally transformed I suppose the way that people live their lives with regard to food.

So what have been the benefits to us of the introduction of a new well-being service? Well sickness absence has reduced across the organisation. With regard to our employment engagement survey, the well-being score has improved, we have also seen an increase in customer satisfaction. All of these we think are directly attributed to the fact that our staff are healthier and happier in work.

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