Britain's businesses risk jeopardising the health of their workforce if they retain a “bunker mentality” focused solely on profit and productivity, rather than the health and wellbeing of their staff, according to new research released by insurer Aviva.
39% of employers questioned in Aviva’s annual Health of the Workplace study claim their prime aim is to foster a highly productive and flexible team and 31% say they are looking for maximum productivity for head count.
Nearly half of employees (47%) say that they feel much tenser at work than in their home life. Only 10% say they are more stressed at home. Although 50% of employers consider themselves to be good role models, 45% admit to being stressed at work. One in five (19%) say they think their bosses create a stressful environment.
While over a quarter of employers (29%) admit they could do with improving their employees’ work/life balance, the research also highlights some positive behaviours. More than a quarter (27%) of employers say that their main priority is to create a motivated team who enjoy working together and 25% say that their number one priority is achieving a friendly company with a good work/life balance.
The smaller the company, the more important work/life balance is thought to be, with half of companies with less than nine employees, citing this as their number one priority for the business. This falls to just 12% for companies with over 100 employees.
Only 2% of employees say they don’t find the workplace friendly and one in four feel they work for a friendly company with a great social life.
With 46% of employers saying they hold regular social events for their staff, they are by far the most common way to help build team spirit. However, one in five employees openly admits that they don’t like socialising with their colleagues. A further 15% feel obliged to show their face, but don’t really enjoy it.
Dr Doug Wright, principal clinical consultant at Aviva UK Health comments: “The latest Aviva Health of the Workplace study suggests that while employers are making some very positive moves towards creating a healthy workplace environment, the overwhelming priority is still on financial performance. In the short term, this strategy can sustain a business through a difficult trading period, but it will undermine business performance in the longer term by damaging staff morale and allowing conditions like stress to flourish.
“It’s particularly worrying that employers currently see themselves as role models despite admitting to suffering punishing levels of stress themselves – especially considering a manager’s behaviour has an inevitable knock-on effect on their staff.
"And, while it’s good to see employers opting for social events, they would be wise to consider if they might be better off investing in wellness initiatives that support the mental and physical wellbeing of their team as well as building team spirit.
“Businesses need to balance their financial priorities with efforts to improve the health, wellbeing and morale of the workforce.”