Employers and the government should invest more in employee health and wellbeing initiatives to reduce the £103bn that sickness absence costs the economy each year, says Dame Carol Black in her report Review of the health of Britain’s working age population: Working for a better tomorrow.†
The report highlights the fact that a lack of information is one of the most common barriers to employers investing in their workforces’ health and wellbeing. As a result, there is a role for the government to play in facilitating the provision of information †and practical advice for employers.†
Investing in a health and wellbeing programme can help employers to reduce sickness absence, reduce staff turnover, reduce accidents and injuries in the workplace, increase employee satisfaction to increase productivity and raise the profile of the company.
However, the report also advises that when doing so, employers should ensure that any initiatives they introduce should meet the needs of their workforce, while obtaining buy-in from senior management is fundamental to the success of their approach.
The report states that smaller organisations may find it more difficult to implement occupational health programmes, than their larger counterparts, however, this should not prevent them from doing so. A further recommendation made in the report suggests larger employers should work with smaller organisations to advise them on how to adequately provide workplace health and wellbeing initiatives.
Black has advised the government to work more closely with employers and representative bodies to develop more robust models for measuring and reporting on the benefits of investing in health and wellbeing. The government has also been called upon to initiate a business-led health and wellbeing consultancy service. This could offer support and advice to employers as well as providing access to occupational health at market rates.
The government has also been called to promote employers’ understanding of the business case for investing in employee health and wellbeing, as well as explore practical ways for smaller employer and organisations to establish health and wellbeing initiatives.
Shadow work and pensions secretary, Chris Grayling, said: “The blueprint for reform shows there are things that should have been done years ago. We cannot carry on spending billions of pounds every year and still fail to tackle to problems we face. I hope this time the government will take action.”