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Our latest Health and well-being at work survey report, the twentieth of its kind and the tenth in partnership with Simplyhealth, surveyed over 1,000 people professionals - representing 4.5 million employees - from across the UK. The survey provides valuable benchmarking data to help organisations evaluate and improve their health and well-being practices. It aims to get under the skin of workplace policy and culture to give the profession greater insight into what’s really driving employee absence, attendance and behaviour. Given the current strain placed on employers and individuals by the Covid-19 pandemic, it's critical that employers step up their support for the health and well-being of their staff during the crisis.

Explore the research insights

The research focuses on the key insights people professionals can act on to positively impact their employees’ health and well-being. You can explore these insights in depth by downloading our full survey report, private and public sector summaries, and printable infographic.

Summary of key findings

Our research found that, although the number of sick days recorded by employers has dropped, ‘presenteeism’, where employees feel the need to work when unwell, and ‘leaveism’, where, for example, employees use their holiday allowance to work, are widespread. 

The findings shine a spotlight on the everyday pressures UK workers face, many of whom feel they’re dealing with mounting levels of stress. Over a third of respondents said that stress-related absence had increased over the past year, with many singling out heavy workloads as the number one cause. 

Encouragingly, more organisations are taking a strategic approach to well-being, developing standalone well-being strategies to support their wider organisational strategy. Disappointingly, there’s been no increase since last year in the number of people who believe well-being has successfully reached the agendas of their senior leaders, though the number of people managers buying into the importance of well-being has increased.

People managers: Read our updated guidance on helping your teams thrive at work.

Listen to a summary of the key findings

Listen to the audio summary of the 2020 Health and well-being survey
 
Duration: 00:03:24

Health and well-being at work survey 2020: Audio summary
 
Sickness absence may have fallen to an all-time low, but ‘presenteeism’ is at an all-time high, as the new research from the CIPD and Simplyhealth reveals.  
 
Our latest Health and well-being at work survey report, the twentieth of its kind and the tenth in partnership with Simplyhealth – surveyed over 1,000 people professionals, who represented 4.5 million employees. We found that, although the number of sick days recorded by employers has dropped, ‘presenteeism’, where employees feel the need to work when unwell, and ‘leaveism’, where, for example, employees might use their holiday allowance to work, are widespread.  
 
Our findings also shine a spotlight on the everyday pressures UK workers face, many of whom feel they’re dealing with mounting levels of stress. 
 
Over a third of our respondents said that stress-related absence had increased over the past year, with many singling out heavy workloads as the number one cause.  
 
Encouragingly, more and more employers are recognising their role in looking after employees’ health and well-being. Indeed, organisations are increasingly taking a strategic approach to well-being, developing standalone well-being strategies to support their wider organisational strategy. 
 
Disappointingly, there’s been no increase since last year in the number of people who believe well-being has successfully reached the agendas of their senior leaders. On the positive side, the number of line managers buying into the importance of well-being has increased. 
 
Our research also found that employee absence levels are the lowest we’ve recorded in twenty years. But this doesn’t necessarily mean employers can assume their people are healthier at work. This means organisations need to look much deeper than sickness absence to understand what drives their employees’ behaviour, attendance and well-being.   
 
HR plays a crucial role in this regard. 
 
That’s why we’ve focused on the key insights people professionals can act on to positively impact their employees’ health and well-being.   
 
To create healthy workplaces, the right building blocks need to be firmly in place. This means: 
 
creating supportive leadership cultures where senior leaders lead by example 
 
training people managers so they can confidently point employees in the right direction for support 
 
using occupational health to address long-term absence, promote health and reduce sickness 
 
providing a general environment in which people feel comfortable and safe when talking about health issues.  
 
Employers aren’t yet reaping the full benefits of their investment in health and well-being but there is a strong business case to do so, with our findings showing that nine out of ten organisations report positive outcomes from their health and well-being activities – whether it’s better morale and engagement; a healthier, more inclusive workplace culture; or lower sickness absence.  
 
To understand why it’s so important to invest in your employees’ health and well-being, visit the CIPD website to download the full report, concise summaries, and supporting resources. 

What this means for the people profession

Although employee absence levels are the lowest we’ve recorded in twenty years, this doesn’t necessarily mean employers can assume their people are healthier at work. Organisations need to look much deeper than sickness absence to understand what drives their employees’ behaviour, attendance and well-being. The people profession plays a crucial role in this regard. 

To foster healthy workplaces, the right building blocks need to be firmly in place. This means: 

  • creating supportive leadership cultures where senior leaders lead by example

  • training people managers so they can confidently point employees in the right direction for support 

  • using occupational health to address long-term absence, promote health and reduce sickness

  • providing a general environment in which people feel comfortable and safe when talking about health issues. 

It’s clear that employers aren’t yet reaping the full benefits of their investment in health and well-being, despite the strong business case to do so. After all, nine out of ten organisations report positive outcomes from their health and well-being activities – whether it’s better morale and engagement; a healthier, more inclusive workplace culture; or lower sickness absence. To understand why it’s so important to invest in your employees’ health and well-being, explore our survey report, public and private sector summaries, and printable infographic.

Video: the state of health and well-being today

Rachel Suff, Well-being adviser (CIPD) and Richard Gillies, Chief Operating Officer (SimplyHealth), answer questions on the state of health and well-being at work today.
Play Video
Health and well-being at work
Since 1872 we’ve been helping people get healthcare through our health plans, charity partnerships and by being a voice in healthcare.
 
Today we’re delighted to be the UK’s leading provider of health plans, dental plans and pet health plans, which help individuals, families, employees and pets to get support with their health when they need it. 
 
Our health plans enable businesses to look after their employees, and make it easy for people to maintain their health and well-being, so they can look after business.
 
We offer two types of preventative health plans:
  • Optimise: our health plan, covering a range of treatments including visits to the optician, dentist, 24/7 GP services and more
  • Denplan: our dental plan, covering all clinically necessary treatments, routine examinations, hygiene treatments, plus cover for accidents and emergencies
We don’t have shareholders which means we are totally focused on making sure no one goes without the healthcare support they need, and why we are passionate about being a voice in healthcare and partnering with charities to reduce health inequality.  
 
Last year we donated £1.13 million to our charity partners which equates to over 10% of our pre-tax profits. Additionally, our partnership with the Simplyhealth Great Run Series raised over £40 million for charitable causes. 

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