Combat work stress and boost productivity says EEF report
27 Nov 2018
The government has been urged by manufacturers to improve employee access to occupational health provision in the UK, in order to boost wellbeing and improve productivity.
It follows a comprehensive survey into the issue, carried out by manufacturing organisation the EEF and insurance brokers Howden.
The study revealed that nearly one in three companies fail to record long term sickness absences, while two-fifths fail to identify when absences are work-related.
On the positive side, more than 80% of firms who responded said they had access to some form of occupational health (OH) service.
EEF head of health and safety policy Terry Woolmer said: “It has long been recognised that a healthy workforce is a more productive workforce. Investment in the wellbeing of employees by both the employer and Government makes sense not just for good business practice but also the benefits to wider society from reduced benefits and pressure on a stretched NHS system.
“The focus on occupational health needs to regain momentum, however, especially given the upward trend of a number of causes of long-term absence.”
The report authors expressed concern that waiting times for treatment was the biggest cause of work-related absences, with stress in second place. Both factors have increased steadily since the first Work and Health report was compiled in 2009. The latest report is the fourth to have been commissioned.
A healthy workforce is a more productive workforce. Investment in the wellbeing of employees makes sense not just for business but also the benefits to society
Terry Woolmer, head of health and safety policy, EEF
Glenn Thomas, managing director of employee benefits for Howden UK added that Government provision alone was not the answer and that manufacturing businesses needed also to consider their own role.
“It’s encouraging to see that manufacturers are making use of OH provisions within the workplace and are adopting a broad range of methods, for instance 38% adopting an employee assistant programme (EAP) to help combat work related stress,” said Thomas.
“Whilst employee wellbeing is high on industry agendas it is apparent that businesses need to maximise return on their benefit spend. This is echoed in the report, with many companies not knowing whether the measures they put in place are reducing absences or having a positive impact on employee health and wellbeing.”
While physiotherapy and other forms of early intervention had the greatest potential to enable early return to work in relevant cases, their use has declined overall, said the report.
However, a large majority of firms have provided beneficial measures such as time off for appointments (77%), reduced or different hours (84%) or phased returns (89%).
Thomas continued: “Business leaders need to engage with employees to find out which services are best suited and make sure that employees are using the benefits provided to them.”
Pic: Mars is one of the many UK firms to have implemented company-wide health, safety and wellbeing initiatives among its staff.