The immediate and urgent necessity to adapt and transform at an accelerated pace brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic undeniably shook the business landscape. Business leaders, faced with an unprecedented challenge, had to reassess the resiliency and sustainability of their businesses. This reprioritisation put a spotlight on the physical and mental wellbeing of their workforce.
Health and wellbeing have become increasingly more material for businesses. Nearly half of the firms surveyed by CBI Economics now have hybrid or flexible working policies - believing that it has some clear benefits for health and wellbeing. These policies were also believed by these firms to be the most supportive environment for employee productivity. Business performance remained a strong indicator of success for these new ways of working with 47% citing that they would change their hybrid working practices if it was found to negatively impact business performance.
To gain a further understanding of how working practices have changed since the pandemic, whether hybrid working has become a dominant working pattern and, consequently, how this has impacted employee physical and mental health and wellbeing, CBI Economics surveyed 352 businesses from across the UK in May 2022.
Key findings include:
- A majority of respondents (65%) agreed that companies have a greater responsibility to support employee mental health and wellbeing since the pandemic, with 72% making this a greater priority since the pandemic.
- Over two thirds of respondent firms (71%) believe that hybrid working is best for attracting talent, with around half of respondents motivated to introduce or evolve health and wellbeing policies by staff recruitment and attrition difficulties (52%).
- Around 57% of businesses have introduced access to mental health resources (e.g., counselling and/or wellbeing apps) to support their employees’ health since the pandemic.
- Since the pandemic, firms have seen an increase in demand for flexible working from employees, with around 70% of respondents giving employees more flexibility to work in a way that supports health and wellbeing.
Overall, the survey found that the focus on developing tailored mental health and wellbeing strategies is essential to help employees work confidently in a rapidly changing working environment. Given this, it is not surprising that around 6 in 10 businesses have increased funding for employee health and wellbeing. A decent proportion of hybrid firms are expected to increase financial investment into employee health and wellbeing over the next year (42% vs 32% for firms with office policies).
The behavioural shift and reprioritisation of health and wellbeing will play a key role for businesses as they continue to face fierce competition in the labour market.
About CBI Economics:
For further insights into the workplace environment, including employee wellbeing, CBI Economics, the CBI’s economic consultancy division, can develop bespoke analysis and surveys for your needs. You can find out more about our services here and get in touch here.