Health in the Workplace - A Survey of Employees in the UK and their Attitudes Towards Health and Hea

17 October 2006

Ceridian's survey on health in the workplace is available for download as a PDF document. It reveals that employers need to do more to promote healthier workforces and to tackle absenteeism.

Ceridian is pleased to present the results of our recent survey relating to health in the workplace. Freely available for downloading as a PDF document, the full report, entitled 'Health in the Workplace - A Survey of Employees in the UK and their Attitudes Towards Health and Health Benefits', reveals that employers need to do more to promote healthier workforces. Some of the main findings are summarised in the three press releases below.

UK workers have low tolerance of fellow employees taking 'sickies'

Our survey reveals that UK workers have a low tolerance of fellow employees taking 'sickies'. Two-thirds of employees either strongly disapproved of or did not think it fair that fellow workers took 'sickies' off when they were not really ill. The survey of 1,050 employees also revealed that employees took an average of 8.5 days off in the past year due to illness or other reasons and that 64 per cent of employers trusted their employees' reasons for absence by not requiring a sick note if absent for less than five days and did not record details of the illness.

Interestingly, there is a generally low tolerance of fellow employees taking 'sickies', especially among men and older or more senior employees. Disapproval was also more likely among employees working in smaller companies or smaller teams. Overall, 26 per cent strongly disapproved of such behaviour while 39 per cent felt that people shouldn't do it, as it was not fair on others. This provides an opportunity for employers building strong teams to allow them to 'police' absences.

According to the CBI, the cost of absence due to ill health is costing British business �13bn per year. When it comes to genuine reasons for absence, the average number of days off per year is driven up by a relatively small number of employees taking many days off. If employers concentrated on helping these employees reduce the numbers of days absent from work then they could significantly improve overall organisational performance, both financially and in terms of customer service.
Doug Sawers, Managing Director of Ceridian in the UK

Practical health wellness and prevention initiatives companies can offer their employees include: reduced insurance premiums for employees who participate in health screenings or are non-smokers; on-site fitness facilities or discounts to local fitness clubs; weight loss courses; workshops on health and wellness; health road shows, with free health testing/health screening; shower facilities for employees cycling to work or using the company gym and healthy menus in the cafeteria.

In the survey, only 15 per cent of employees considered work conditions contributed a great deal to illness, and 25 per cent attributed their illness to work-related stress.

The 1,050 respondents took off a total of 8,918 unscheduled days in the last twelve months - an average of 8.5 days per employee.

With only a quarter of employees reporting that their employers offered advice on well-being on a regular basis and the majority offering no advice at all, there is considerable opportunity for employers, as part of their duty of care responsibilities, to offer advice and support. A corporate health and wellness programme can range from contributing to gym memberships to offering healthier meals in the cafeteria. As a result, organisations would have a fitter, stronger workforce.
Doug Sawers

Leaner companies required as three-quarters of UK employees admit needing to lose weight

The workplace health survey shows that 72 per cent of employees admit the need to lose weight, indicating companies need to get leaner for better operating performance. Clearly, employers need to do more to educate and encourage healthier employees.

Employers who encourage their workers to shed pounds can be sure to add pounds to their bottom lines by operating more profitability with a leaner, fitter workforce. Our research shows that absenteeism is currently running at an average of 8.5 days off per employee per year. Reducing that average by ten per cent would have an immediate impact on productivity.

It also makes sense for the future as we are sitting on a generational time bomb as the number of overweight and obese children has risen dramatically over the last 20 years. Employees need to set a better example for their children and employers can help.
Doug Sawers, Managing Director of Ceridian in the UK

Eighteen per cent of employees recognise they are probably overweight, 42 per cent admit that they would like to lose some weight while 12 per cent recognise that they should lose a lot. Despite acknowledging they are carrying extra pounds, 63 per cent of the 1,050 employees surveyed by Ceridian exercise less than three times per week, 29 per cent of whom do no exercise at all. The recommended daily amount of physical activity for adults is 30 minutes of exercise on five or more days per week.

Our survey found that 72 per cent of workers admitted the need to lose some weight and co-incidentally 72 per cent of employers offer no encouragement to their workers to exercise, either in the form of fully-funded or discounted local gym membership, organised exercise classes or the provision of on-site exercise facilities. However, employees should not be entirely surprised as, when exercise benefits are provided, only 14 per cent use them regularly and 54 per cent never use them at all!
Doug Sawers, Managing Director of Ceridian in the UK

In England alone, eight million adults are classified as obese, representing 22 per cent of all men and 23 per cent of all women with a further 43 per cent of men and 34 per cent of women classified as overweight. The cost of physical inactivity in England has been estimated at �8.2 billion a year. This includes the direct costs of treatment for major lifestyle-related diseases and the indirect costs caused through sickness absence.

Employers need to do more to promote healthier workforces

The survey concludes that employers need to do more to educate and encourage healthier employees. Of the 1,050 employees surveyed by Ceridian for the report, 49 per cent would actively welcome advice from their employers.

Employers have a golden opportunity to do more to educate their employees on living a healthier and happier lifestyle yet 60 per cent provided no advice at all over the last twelve months. Employers should do all they can to reduce the levels of worker absenteeism, which our survey shows is currently running at a high average of 8.5 days' unscheduled leave per year.

Ideally, they should start to assess the current state of employees' health and well-being. Once employers have gathered an overall picture of the state of health of their workforce, they can begin to understand the key issues that impact employees' health and wellness. Tailored programmes can then be introduced that meet the needs of their employees and create a healthier and fitter workforce, which in turn leads to a healthier bottom line as the costs of absence are reduced.
Doug Sawers