'Well workforces, work well': CIPD

The professional body for HR and people development is calling on employers and policy makers to support more actively employee wellbeing and so close the UK’s productivity gap.

Group of happy people
The CIPD's new report, Growing the health and wellbeing agenda: from first steps to full potential, suggests that while employers and government are aware of the positive impact of actively promoting workplace wellbeing, a stubborn implementation gap is hampering long-term health and business sustainability.It also reaffirms key messages from the CIPD's annual conference. Here CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese called for a return to people-centric businesses, where HR has a vital role in helping business respond to the changing world of work in a way that drives good, ethical and sustainable businesses.Emphasising HR's role in creating cultures that link health and wellbeing with performance and productivity, the CIPD's position paper drew on its 2015 autumn employee outlook survey to show that around two in five employers of the 2,000 respondents are under excessive pressure at least once a week and that long hours are the norm in their workplace.The paper also identifies that just eight per cent of the UK organisations have a standalone wellbeing strategy that supports wider organisational objectives. The majority (61%) of employers are more reactive in their approach to wellbeing.Rachel Suff, policy adviser at the CIPD, and author of the report, commented on the need for action from HR practitioners, employers and government."The cost of inaction is staggering, yet the gains that can be made from a proactive and holistic approach to wellbeing are equally impressive."To put wellbeing firmly on the business agenda, we need to change conversations around the business case for wellbeing programmes from 'cost avoidance' to 'shared value creation', and highlight what organisations stand to gain, rather than lose."By taking a proactive and holistic approach to wellbeing, organisations can help both their people and the business to reach their full potential."Sir Professor Cary Cooper, CIPD president and wellbeing expert, added, "A workforce that is well works well, but 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 the fast changing world of work, wellbeing has never been more important. 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."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."To continue to take the agenda forward, and close the implementation gap that sees 57 per cent of the companies surveyed report wellbeing is not taken accounted for in business decisions, the CIPD makes a number of recommendations for HR, employers and government.For HR, these include capitalising on the profession's unique position to steer the health and wellbeing agenda and drive systemic approach to change, ensuring it is integrated into an organisation's day-to-day operations.This could be by convincing senior management to integrate wellbeing throughout the business by highlighting pockets of good wellbeing practice and demonstrating in tangible terms the impact on employee engagement, customer service, absence levels and performance.Measurement is also vital, says the CIPD. HR professionals could monitor and regularly report on a range of health, employee satisfaction and organisational measures to build a strong body of evidence to demonstrate the need for ongoing financial commitment to health and wellbeing.For employers, the CIPD recommends a holistic approach to health and wellbeing that is preventative and proactive, and respond quickly to offer support when issues emerge. Their approach should promote good physical health, good mental health and 'good work', with line managers pivotal in shaping employees' experience of work, bringing people management policies to life and managing the potential causes of stress.

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