Why the wellbeing agenda has gathered pace.

January 11, 2016    Ann Clarke     ,

The drivers for wellbeing sit in two camps – there are the wider socioeconomic drivers that have brought wellbeing to the attention of company boards, and the individual business challenges that wellbeing can address.

Putting wellbeing into context.

There’s a global movement for workplace wellbeing. This is in no small part attributable to the increased retirement age and the idea that most of us will be working for much longer. If the X and Y generations are to work into their seventies, it is vital they are fit (mentally and physically), well and competent. As a society we need to be ready for that and employers are realising the huge onus this presents.

After such a period of economic turbulence there is also a blanket acceptance that businesses and employees need to be more resilient. Those organisations that weathered the storm, thrived even, were flexible and nimble, reinventing themselves as market conditions changed. They were the businesses where employees were motivated, enthused and supported.

Eminent Professor of Psychology Carey Cooper makes the point, saying, “…improving psychological wellbeing and resilience is increasingly seen as a vital part of the overall business strategy to create a motivated, flexible and committed workforce.”

In the modern workplace, there is often a perceived need to work longer and harder. The wellbeing agenda shows this as foolhardy and has helped to make employers more morally aware of their responsibilities. Companies have started to accept that if they are to demand more, be that time, energy or effort, they need to invest in the wellbeing of their workforce.

Now, as our working lives become more transitory, with up to seven careers predicted in a lifetime, the balance of power has shifted to the employee. They have more choice and will exert it, opting to work for companies that give them the best career opportunities, wellbeing and quality of life. It extends far beyond financial remuneration.

And finally, the wellbeing agenda has gathered pace because of the staggering cost of ignoring it. The UK government’s own policy paper ‘Health, Work and Wellbeing’ points out that the cost of workplace absence is putting an unbearable strain on the country’s economy and public resources.

Jon Andrews, PwC’s HR consulting leader said, “Absence is still a significant drain on British businesses. At a time when companies are striving for growth it is vital they address this cost by looking for ways to improve employees’ health, morale and motivation. Allowing greater workplace flexibility could go a long way to helping break the sickness cycle.”

It’s a compelling case. Workplace wellbeing cannot be ignored. Employers have a collective responsibility for our health, wellbeing and economic contribution.

To find out more about workplace wellbeing and how to write a wellbeing agenda, download our Workplace Wellbeing whitepaper, which is full of guidance and advice:

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