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Working group says employers must “sustain investment” in wellbeing during cost of living crisis

The UK National Forum for Health & Wellbeing at Work is urging employers to sustain investment in health and wellbeing during cost of living crisis.  

Key Learnings to build into your Wellbeing StrategyIn an open letter published across UK newspapers yesterday (19 May), the UK National Forum for Health and Wellbeing, which represents some of the largest employers in the UK, says budget constraints brought on by the cost of living crisis could have a detrimental impact on employee’s wellbeing programmes. “We are aware that as leading employers there is an onus on us to provide support to our people, now more than ever,” it reads. “But we are growing concerned that the financial pressures all businesses are facing is leading to a cessation or substantial scaleback in health and wellbeing provisions.

“After headcount, the next port of call for cuts are often in budgets for support services functions such as HR and training, and that means reduced health and wellbeing support for employees,” the letter says, published to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week.

“It cites 2022 research from the Health and Safety Executive revealing, that of the 1.8 million work-related ill-health cases in 2021/22, stress, depression and anxiety made up 900,000 cases. A statistic, the group says which is “detrimental not only to individuals, but to businesses themselves”.

The UK currently props up the list of G7 countries in terms of productivity and sits 17th in the G20. The group says this poor showing has been affected by the reported high number of wellbeing-work-related ill-health cases. “In addition,” the letter continues, “the costs of ill health to the UK government is estimated to be around £50 billion a year, as a result of benefit payments, additional health costs, taxes, and National Insurance”.

The group acknowledges that employers are “genuinely keen to care about their employees” and as such, it calls “on leaders to ensure they continue to sustain their present commitment towards health and wellbeing at this time”. Furthermore, the group is urging the UK Government to play a role in helping employers navigate this issue. “We are also calling on the UK Government to consider how it can better support business through incentivising health and wellbeing provisions at this challenging time,” the letter concludes.

Karl Simons Safety Bytes

Karl Simons, Co-Founder and Chief Futurist at Fyld

SHP Editorial Board member Karl Simons OBE, co-authored the letter. He told SHP that investment in wellbeing is essential during this difficult financial time.“We understand the present economic situation the country is facing, which is leading to the extreme demands and pressures being placing on our public services, especially the NHS.

“So it is crucial right now that companies continue to invest in their employee’s health and well-being as we know that up front health investment can lead to early intervention and treatment for those struggling physically or psychologically and the long-term holistic impact across our nation of this will mean we avert worsening this health crisis.

“We are also calling on the Government to consider what steps they can take to incentivise companies to invest in the long-term health and wellbeing management of their employees.

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