British businesses know the value of workplace health but remain reluctant to invest finds a survey
British businesses know the value of workplace health but remain reluctant to invest due to a gap in guidance and a lack of incentives, according to a new report.
Norwich Union Healthcare's report found that two thirds (64%) of businesses believe that employee wellbeing has a direct impact on the productivity levels of their workforce.
However a third (33%) of employers don't invest more due to a lack of government incentives and a quarter (24%) don't know where to access occupational health information - this rose to 43% among small businesses.
The report shows that the type of incentive needed varies according to company size. Subsidised occupational healthcare (58%) would encourage small and medium sized companies to implement rehabilitation schemes for their staff, followed by tax incentives for small companies (57%) and better partnerships with the NHS for medium sized companies (48%). Better NHS relationships and legislation (51% respectively), followed by tax incentives (49%), would encourage large companies.
“Companies know the value of workplace health but many are unaware of the services already available to them and believe that more financial incentives are needed to encourage a better approach to occupational health.
Dr Douglas Wright, Norwich Union Healthcare
Employers, employees and GPs were surveyed for the report, which examines why workplace health continues to challenge businesses. Sickness absence remains companies' most pressing workplace health concern (40%), followed by ageing workforces for large companies (20%) and a perceived lack of government support and incentives for small and medium-sized businesses (23%).
Dr Douglas Wright, Norwich Union Healthcare, commented: "Our second ‘Health of the Workplace' report reveals a real ‘guidance gap' in employers' approach to workplace health. Companies know the value of workplace health but many are unaware of the services already available to them and believe that more financial incentives are needed to encourage a better approach to occupational health. Our report shows that it's important to bridge that gap, embed the enthusiasm that exists on all sides on occupational health and move towards putting workable solutions in place."
John Wright, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, explains why Britain's 4.5m small businesses feel especially unsupported: "Britain's economy has encouraged an entrepreneurial spirit in the UK in recent years, which means that there are more small businesses than ever. However these businesses do not have the benefit of large HR departments in charge of workplace health and need more support on this front. There is belief that if the Government becomes more proactive in terms of providing financial incentives to small businesses, their occupational health offering would improve."
The research also reveals that employers believe that GPs should be more proactive in terms of helping businesses deal with workplace health, from helping to rehabilitate employees after sickness absence (42%) and being less lenient in issuing sick notes (26%) to being more proactive in communicating with employers directly to discuss employee wellbeing (24%).
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