More research - this time from YouGov - underlines the link between employee wellbeing and staff retention plus profit.
Germany’s largest union is threatening strike action if demands for a better work-life balance are not met. Last year IG Metall asked for shorter working hours and a 6 per cent pay rise for a reported 3.9 million workers. Negotiations with German employers are ongoing, involving a proposed reduction in weekly working from 35 to 28 hours. In the UK, full-time workers put in an average of 37.3 hours a week and, without the same union set-up and collective bargaining power as employees in Germany and the Nordic countries, their wellbeing is in the hands of individual employers and business leaders. Initiatives to encourage employee engagement and workplace wellness range from flexible working to mental health support and financial or physical rewards for performance. Research suggests that such schemes can boost retention rates, reduce absenteeism and increase productivity. A survey by YouGov suggests a lack of workplace wellness can have far-reaching side effects. Employees with a poor work-life balance tend to be more disengaged with life in general than the average person, with those aged 25 to 34 particularly at risk. While more businesses in the UK are taking responsibility for workplace wellness, approaches vary and often lack strategy, says Rachel Suff, employment relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). According to CIPD research, a third of the organisations surveyed had a formal wellbeing programme and fewer than half (43 per cent) of respondents said wellbeing was on senior leaders’ agendas. To be effective, employee engagement programmes must be reflected in and begin with a company’s culture, leadership and people management, says Ms Suff. “Senior leaders have to buy into any initiative otherwise it will fail. They’re going to set the tone for the culture of the whole organisation,” she says.