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Wellbeing: Few workers feel employer encourages them to look after health

Only three in 10 employees say their employer encourages them to look after their health, despite workplace wellbeing having risen up the corporate agenda during the pandemic.

According to a survey of 2,001 people commissioned by Bupa Health Clinics, many employees still face barriers when it comes to taking time out of work to look after their health.

Twenty-four per cent say they don’t feel their employer is encouraging when it comes to attending regular medical appointments, 16% have to take time off as holiday or unpaid leave to attend an appointment, and 15% have had time off denied even though it was for a health check or screening.

One in five claim they are too busy to take time off work for a health appointment.

Bupa Health Clinics warned that missed appointments for health concerns could result in longer term absence if conditions are left untreated, which could cost employers an average of £19,000 for each case of long-term sick leave.

“Regular health screenings have been neglected during the pandemic, for example, there are currently 4.7 million people with cervixes in the UK who haven’t been adequately screened for cervical cancer [according to NHS Digital data]. So, ensuring employees are able to take time off when needed to attend these screenings can be potentially lifesaving,” said Alaana Woods, commercial director at Bupa Health Clinics.

“Not only is looking after employee health the right thing to do, but it makes business sense. Those who support employee health and wellbeing, reap the benefits of having a healthy, productive and engaged workforce.”

Woods said organisations needed to “normalise” the importance of looking after health and recommended measures including:

  • Letting employees know that if they have a health appointment they can either start their working day earlier or later to support this or take time out during the working day.

  • Creating line manager guides to normalise conversations about health.

  • Creating internal campaigns for certain issues, such as Movember for men’s health.

  • Providing easy access to health services, such as remote GP appointments or employee assistance programmes.

Personnel Today August 2021

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