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Employers say health benefits impacts workforce

Published: 11 Oct 2017

  • Seven in 10 (69%) employees have gone to work unwell
  • At the same time, a quarter (23%) of employees admit to taking a day off when not actually ill
  • Results come first, as 43% of employees feel their boss puts business performance ahead of their health and wellbeing
  • Three quarters of employers (77%) say health and wellbeing benefits have a positive impact on their workforce

Seven in ten (69%) UK private sector employees – equivalent to 18 million nationally  – have gone to work unwell when they should have taken the day off, Aviva’s Working Lives report shows.

In contrast, less than a quarter (23%) say they have taken a day off work sick when they were not actually unwell, indicating that UK employees are three times more likely to go to work unwell than they are to ‘pull a sickie’.

The fourth edition of the Working Lives report – which examines the attitudes and experiences of employers and employees on issues affecting the present and future of the UK workplace – also carries a wake-up call to businesses, as more than two in five (43%) employees feel their employer puts the results of the company ahead of their health and wellbeing.

However, the findings also illustrate that through investing in the health and wellbeing of their employees, employers can generate tangible returns, with over three in four (77%) businesses who offer benefits highlighting a positive impact on the workforce.

Widespread ‘presenteeism’ as average sick days fall

In what may be a surprise to employers, Aviva’s findings suggest private sector workers are fearful of heavy workloads if they take time off, as more than one in five (41%) say their work will pile up if they are off sick. With people continuing to work while they are unwell, it is likely that they are less productive as a consequence and in turn could also affect the health of other employees. 

The worrying trend comes against the backdrop of a historic fall in the average number of sick days taken annually by UK employees, dropping to a record low of 4.3 days in 2016 compared with 7.2 days in 1993 when tracking began.

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