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December 9, 2013

The state of workforce wellbeing

A lack of motivation and sub-optimal health is causing workers in Britain to work well below peak productivity and is holding back potential growth, according to a new study from Bupa. Key findings include:

  • Nearly half of Britain’s employees hold back effort at work, believing that extra effort will not be recognised or rewarded
  • One in four staff admit they don’t want to win new business as it will only mean more work for them
  • Over a third of teams are experiencing extra stress and pressure due to staff ill health and absences

    The research, which combines the views of 5,000 workers with economic analysis from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), shows that the failure to unlock employees’ ‘discretionary effort’ is costing businesses dearly as a lack of motivation and sub-optimal health cut a potential £6 billion – equivalent to 0.4 per cent of GDP – from the economy in 2012.


    Almost half of people admitted to not going above and beyond at work because they think that they won’t be acknowledged (46 per cent) or rewarded (47 per cent). Just as alarmingly for businesses, less than one in ten (7 per cent) employees say they are working to their full potential, and more than a quarter of (27 per cent) workers rate their current level of productivity as five or below (on a scale of 1-10).


    Patrick Watt, corporate director at Bupa, comments: “This is a wake-up call for employers. This research shows that many employees are not engaged or motivated, which has a big impact on a business’ performance and productivity. However, the good news for is that by making even small changes to how they look after and value their employees, there are huge gains on offer for Britain’s businesses.


    “Initiatives that boost employee engagement are intrinsically linked to employee wellbeing, and can produce a willingness to go the extra mile. By rewarding extra effort from employees and building an organisation around health and wellbeing, businesses can harness the discretionary effort of their workforce to supercharge their growth.”


    Bupa’s research also looks at the health of employees and reveals that Britain is not fit for growth in its current state, with only two in five (41 per cent) employees operating at their peak physical level and three in ten (29 per cent) unable to concentrate at work due to poor health.


    Ill health has a knock-on effect among colleagues with a third (37 per cent) of teams experiencing a strain on resources due to staff absence. This extra pressure means that three in ten are at risk of missing targets (29 per cent) and one in four teams does not feel motivated to win new business as it will only mean more work for them (27 per cent).


    Patrick Watt continues: “Successful businesses rely on healthy, engaged teams who are motivated to go the extra mile to help the organisation reach its full potential. But with one in four (24 per cent) employees concerned that they will burnout, companies must take urgent action to raise levels of staff wellbeing to counteract the ripple effect of poor health on the wider organisation – and the economy as a whole.”



    Organisations struggle to support their workforce

    The research also shows that more than two in five (41 per cent) workers say that when it comes to employee wellbeing, their company is “all talk, but no action”, which is contributing to their lack of motivation and willingness to go above and beyond.


    More than three in five (60 per cent) employees don’t expect their employer to do anything to help them to be less stressed, more healthy, more physically fit, feel more valued or have a better work-life balance. This is unsurprising given that more than two out of three (70 per cent) employees state that their companies do not invest in wellbeing initiatives.


    Patrick Watt adds: “There is a clear gulf between what employees need to be happy and productive, and what companies are giving them. Businesses need to harness the potential output by focusing on engaging employees, and putting their wellbeing at the very heart of the organisation.


    “Employers should not underestimate the benefits of tackling the biggest workplace health problems: namely stress and musculoskeletal conditions. New initiatives which make it easy and cost-effective for employers to do this can really make a difference to productivity and performance.”


    For more information please contact:

    Alex Kent, Julia Burns or Will Lock at Man Bites Dog. T: 0844 561 1416 / E: teambupa@manbitesdog.com

    Or contact the Bupa Press Office: T: 020 7656 2454 / E: bupapressoffice@bupa.com


    About Bupa
    Bupa’s purpose is longer, healthier, happier lives. A leading international healthcare group, we serve 13m customers in more than 190 countries. We offer personal and company-financed health insurance and medical subscription products, run hospitals, provide workplace health services, home healthcare, health assessments and chronic disease management services.  We are also a major international provider of nursing and residential care for elderly people.


    With no shareholders, we invest our profits to provide more and better healthcare and fulfil our purpose. Bupa employs more than 62,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland, New Zealand and the USA, as well as Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, India, Thailand, China and across Latin America. www.bupa.com


    About the research

    Primary research in this report was carried out by OnePoll in August and September 2013. The total number of adults questioned in the survey was 5,000.


    Economic analysis was carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research. The modelling drew upon data from the OnePoll survey, along with national accounts data from the Office for National Statistics and data published by the European Commission’s EU-KLEMS project. EU-KLEMS estimates the contributions of labour and capital to output growth across 40 economic sector groupings. The labour contribution to output growth is split into hours worked and labour composition, or labour quality. This latter component aims to capture the growth which is not explained by increased volume of hours worked. In this study, we take observed contributions of labour quality in the recent past to represent the maximum possible output boost from an optimally-healthy workforce.


    Regional breakdowns do not sum fully to the national total, due to a proportion of UK economic activity in the national accounts being defined as extra-regio. This refers to economic activity in the UK which cannot be assigned to any specific geographical region (e.g., offshore oil and gas mining).

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