With a rise in workplace-related stress, illnesses and mental health issues, 52% of working adults in the South West believe that businesses are not doing enough to support the physical and mental wellbeing of their employees.
Current treatments such as health check-ups, cognitive behavioural therapy and chiropractic treatment are provided by the NHS, through National Insurance contributions, but nearly three quarters (73%) of those surveyed by Westfield Health stated that the NHS does not have the budget to provide wellbeing services like these.
Is National Insurance becoming unfit for purpose?
People in the South West don’t seem to know, with only 12% of employees knowing how much National Insurance they pay and only 53% knowing how much of the contribution goes where, be it the NHS, social security or their state pension.
With an ageing workforce and more hours spent in the office than ever, should the NHS’s frontline resources continue to be used for wellbeing services?
The research found that 65% of workers in the South West would like to see the Government do more to promote their physical and mental wellbeing. And the vast majority 73% believe that their employers are specifically not doing enough to help employees deal with work-related stress, anxiety and other mental health issues.
Similar to the recent rollout of the workplace pension opt-out, could a government-backed auto-enrolment scheme for wellbeing programmes – funded by employers and by a portion of employees’ National Insurance contributions – be one of the solutions to address the NHS’s long-term financial needs?
Certainly the appetite is there in South West with 57% of employees stating they’d use wellbeing services if their employer provided them.
The top things they would like to be offered are:
- Exercise 48%
- Health check-ups 46%
- Access to a gym 42%
David Capper, Commercial Director of Westfield Health, said: “The total number of UK working days lost to stress, anxiety and depression resulting from long working hours is 12.5 million days. Therefore, it makes sense for employers to relieve some of the pressure through wellbeing initiatives. Not only would they be supporting our economy, they’ll make huge cost savings by looking after their staff’s health, with presenteeism now costing businesses up to three times more than absenteeism.
“From sleep to nutrition and mental health to physical fitness, there are so many elements that contribute to your overall wellness, happiness and healthiness. It’s more than free fruit in the office and discounted gym memberships. As business leaders, we need to create a culture where our people’s health and wellbeing is prioritised to drive confidence, capability, inspiration and ultimately prosperity.”