Only one FTSE 100 company has a wellbeing executive on their leadership team, research finds

Only 3% of FTSE 100 companies list a Human Resource (HR) Director or Chief People Officer (or related titles) on their board, whilst only one of the FTSE 100 lists a wellbeing executive on their leadership team.

This lack of HR influence at the top table of FTSE 100 companies comes despite job vacancies reaching an all-time high and an industry-wide skills shortage hindering business growth.

The research was conducted by wellbeing and performance experts, GoodShape, whose own data reveals another significant challenge facing HR and leadership: the staggering impact of poor mental health on UK businesses. Mental health-related absences cost UK businesses an estimated £17 billion during the pandemic with 125 million lost working days.

81 of the FTSE 100 companies published their leadership team on their website. Of those, 40 list a Human Resources Director (or equivalent), 31 list a Chief People Officer (or related title) and just one list a wellbeing executive on the leadership team. Three had broader roles that included talent and culture responsibilities.

With the role of the Human Resource Department fundamental to shaping the future of organisations – ensuring diversity and inclusion, eradicating presenteeism, protecting staff wellbeing and removing unconscious bias – it is surprising there isn’t more adequate representation.

“Organisations need to shift away from prioritising financial leadership over people leadership. It’s an antiquated view that focusing on profit rather than people will lead to a healthier company. Yet this approach continues to pervade across UK PLC,” said Alun Baker, CEO of GoodShape.

“For too long, employees have lacked the same attention that businesses give to their equipment, vehicles, or buildings. It’s time to level up, and authenticity is key. ‘Wellbeing washing’ will only jeopardise an organisation’s talent pool and future performance” Baker continued.

Working with Ipsos, GoodShape published a comprehensive view of wellbeing at UK PLC, which revealed that 80% of managers and HR professionals believe senior leaders take the issue of employee wellbeing seriously. However, there is little definition or ownership of wellbeing and insufficient training. Alarmingly, almost a third (27%) believe that employee wellbeing initiatives have no effect on financial performance.

Other findings from GoodShape’s report include:

  • Post-pandemic, UK businesses plan to roll back “much needed” employee wellbeing policies, raising concerns that wellbeing washing is happening.
  • Almost two thirds (66%) think remote working will be rolled back, with 57% saying the same for flexible working. More than half (56%) believe mental health initiatives will be cut and 63% believe their company will withdraw occupational health services.
  • Most managers and HR Professionals say that the current responsibility for administering wellbeing programmes rests with HR (54%). Only 7% believe it sits at board level.
  • HR professionals and middle managers report that both current (62%) and prospective employees (49%) are asking more of them and their company to support their wellbeing.
  • Very few managers and HR professionals have reliable data to measure the true impact of mental and physical illness on an organisation with only 16% citing insights as their biggest priority.
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