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 out today.
Norwich Union Healthcare’s latest ‘Health of the Workplace’ report found that two thirds of businesses believe that employee wellbeing has a direct impact on the productivity levels of their workforce. However a third of employers don’t invest more due to a lack of Government incentives and a quarter 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 would encourage small and medium-sized companies to implement rehabilitation schemes for their staff, followed by tax incentives for small companies and better partnerships with the NHS for medium sized companies. Better NHS relationships and legislation, followed by tax incentives, would encourage large companies.
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, followed by ageing workforces for large companies and a perceived lack of Government support and incentives for small and medium-sized businesses.
Dr Douglas Wright, Norwich Union Healthcare, comments: “Our 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. It is 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 4.5 million 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.”
Private medical insurance: News update: January 2008