Our Spring Thames Valley Business Barometer has just been published. As well as focusing on economic confidence, growth and employment intentions, the Spring 2019 Barometer puts the spotlight on employee wellbeing. The importance of wellbeing in the workplace is being increasingly recognised, and many companies are looking at practices to increase the wellbeing of their staff.
Business confidence in the year of Brexit
The latest Barometer, conducted between March and May 2019, suggests that this year Brexit has had an impact, with falling expectations in profit, turnover and staff retention. According to the survey, 63% of businesses have lost economic confidence in the last six months, with businesses most uncertain about trading, staff migration, increased costs of resources and the current political climate This has especially impacted small businesses in the region.
Let’s face it, it is hard to ignore Brexit. It dominates the news cycle and national debate, and this has evidently affected business confidence in the Thames Valley. Clearly many companies have been tightening their belts and many longer-term projects and investment decisions have been deferred, at least for now.
It’s not all doom and gloom, business performance has remained stable with 36% of respondents saying their business pipeline has increased, and 43% reporting an increase in turnover. Likewise,more than half of the companies surveyed in the report expect profits to rise and headcount to grow in the next six months.
Employee wellbeing in the workplace – a priority for Thames Valley employers
The report also focused on health and wellbeing in the workplace in the Thames Valley. In 2017, Health Survey England reported 64.3% of adults in the UK are classified overweight or obese. Causes of obesity can have a lot of direct links to the workplace. Workers in sedentary jobs who work at a desk with limited movement and physical activity are most at risk. In addition, work-related stress has a proven link to abusing food and overeating.
In our report, 90% of employers recognise that they have a responsibility to encourage their employees to be healthy in the workplace. Over half of businesses are proactive in offering effective health and wellbeing programmes for employees. 54% of respondents have implemented cycle to work schemes and 34% of businesses offer a healthy food alternative. However, there is room for improvement, particularly with regards to work-related stress and mental health.
1 in 4 people will experience mental health issues each year; this is equivalent to 676 million people worldwide. According to the report, businesses surveyed provide services such as pro-counselling with 30% of organisations offering staff intranets with an online counselling section. However, around half (49%) of managers do not know how to support employee mental wellbeing in the workplace, and 66% state that they would not know what to do if an employee directly told them that they were struggling.
Presenteeism continues to be pressing issue as reports suggest more than 40% of employees said their work was affected by health problems after putting aside mental and physical health problems to go into work. The accelerating trend can be costly to businesses as productivity is impacted, morale is low and stress is high, and illness can spread to affect the entire workforce.
Moreover, 67% of individuals who have struggled with mental illness had never told their employer despite there being around 61% of employees that have experienced a mental health issue because of work. There continues to be a stigma surrounding the topic of mental health and stress, which could be why services and opportunities for employees to discuss concerns are limited – few understand how to tackle issues and support their workforce.
Employers need to start listening and take action. There are many businesses benefits to reducing stress and encouraging worker wellbeing, including preventing high staff turnover, improving workplace relations and increasing productivity. And if businesses continue to ignore wellbeing of their employees, they could directly lose money! Reports suggest mental ill health is responsible for 72 million working days lost and costs £34.9 billion each year.
We are experiencing a burnout culture where work-related stress is the largest cause of absence, and it’s important that employers take more proactive steps to promote worker wellbeing. We hope the latest Barometer is eye opening for businesses and encourages employers to explore their options and consider the ways they can support their employees.
Would you like to be profiled in the next Barometer?
To find out more about the Thames Valley Business Barometer, head to our Insight page or visit the BDO website. To be profiled in the next Barometer please contact Paula Elliott, MD, C8 Consulting on firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 0118 949 7736. The next Barometer survey will take place from September to November 2019.