Image: Ramsey Beyer Image: Ramsey Beyer

A gap in implementing health and well-being initiatives in the workplace are threatening individuals’ health and long-term business sustainability, according to the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development.

The report, which says the average cost of absence is now £554 per employee per year, found that just 8% of organisations in the UK have a standalone well-being strategy that supports the wider organisational strategy.

Almost two-fifths of workers (38%) said they are under "excessive pressure" at work at least once a week, with 43% saying that long hours are part of the organisation's culture.

And yet well-being is taken into account in business decisions only to a little extent, or not at all, in the majority (57%) of cases. And the majority of employers are more reactive than proactive in their approach to well-being (61%).

The CIPD said that many organisations’ efforts to improve health and well-being in the office consist of one-off initiatives that fail to have a long-term impact in the workplace. To address this, the CIPD recommends that a proactive employee well-being programme - based on the foundations of good people management, leadership and culture - should be at the core of how an organisation fulfils its mission and carries out its operations.

Sir Professor Cary Cooper, CIPD President and well-being expert, said: “A workforce that is well works well, but we’re still seeing far too many people doing more work than they can cope with, working long or unsociable hours, suffering from technology overload and unable to switch off. Organisations need to take better care of their people and recognise how the demands of work can affect their physical and mental health, as well as their ability to perform well at work.

“In the fast changing world of work, well-being has never been more important. With the UK at the bottom of the G7 and near the bottom of the G20 countries on productivity per capita, the way we manage people and create cultures that enhance well-being are now bottom-line issues. Prevention is better than a cure; it’s high time that business leaders recognise this and create cultures in organisations in which well-being is centre stage and people are happy, healthy and committed to achieving organisational success.”