Wellbeing at work isn’t a new concept but it is certainly on the agenda of many employers we speak to about their recruitment requirements. It’s increasingly important to the candidates who approach us well – many ask us to seek out those employers with a reputation for taking employee health and wellbeing seriously.

Still misunderstood?

According to a group of wellbeing experts in a recent British Safety Council report, there still remains a great deal of uncertainty about what exactly wellbeing is all about. The report ‘Not just free fruit: Wellbeing at Work’ found that employee wellbeing is often ignored or misunderstood. Employers are unsure how to define it, how to improve it, what priority to assign to it and how to measure the success of well-being programmes and interventions. While occupational safety remains a key priority for employers across all sectors, there is growing awareness of the impact wellbeing has on individuals, organisations and society as a whole.

“The link between wellbeing and productivity is undeniable and calculable. It cannot be ignored.”  – Lawrence Waterman OBE

The report provides a timely reminder that too often, unlike the highly professional approach to risk assessment and risk control which has yielded improvements in preventing accidents and injuries, wellbeing efforts have been marked by a combination of real enthusiasm and commitment married to a woeful ignorance of what will, sustainably and effectively, make a difference. Well-being at work not only includes traditional health benefits but, crucially, the conditions which characterise the working day: workload, collegiality, autonomy and salary, to name a few.

SME’s risk losing good talent

Whilst there are now many impressive well-being programmes being promoted by larger organisations it seems that some SME’s, whilst suffering the consequences of absenteeism and long term health issues, remain reluctant to provide health and wellbeing benefits.

A survey of 500 SMEs, conducted for BUPA, explains the paradox. While 76% of SME leaders who experienced the long-term sickness absence of a worker declared that it had a ‘significant impact’ on growth, only 46% said that health and wellbeing will be ‘a key consideration’ as they develop their business.

Following the survey Richard Norris, Bupa’s Consumer Director, observed that health and wellbeing ‘should be an integral part of their growth strategy from the start’. He stated: ”If small business owners continue to side line employee wellbeing, they risk losing market share and good talent to more supportive competitors. By supporting the health and wellbeing of their people, leaders are helping to protect the long-term health of their business.” The Federation and Small Businesses and the CIPD support his view. With 5.5m small businesses in the UK, both agree that health and well-being needs to be linked to an employer’s corporate strategy and based closely on the specific needs of the organisation and its people from the outset.

The report concludes with a statement we at First Base wholeheartedly support based on our experience of placing over 13,000 people into work with over 300 employers:

‘Workers are the lifeblood of all businesses, large or small. No company can survive without them. Looking after their well-being is not only the right thing to do, it also make good financial sense.’

You can download the full report here.

Employers and candidates tell us that First Base is their first choice for help with their recruitment requirements and their personal career progression. If you would like to know more about how the First Base team could help you, contact us on 01453 755330.