Managers still not skilled to handle wellbeing issues

The new Health and Wellbeing at Work report by the CIPD flags up a number of issues around employee wellbeing.

cipd health and wellbeing report 2023


“Focus from senior leaders is waning” when it comes to standalone wellbeing strategies at work, according to a new CIPD report.

The Health and Wellbeing at Work 2023 survey illustrates that while senior management focus is higher than pre-pandemic levels, it’s still starting to dip.

“Senior leaders have the influence to transform the wellbeing culture as well as good practice in organisations,” said Rachel Suff, Senior Policy Adviser, Employment Relations, CIPD. “Their active support for any programme is critical as they are in a position to integrate health and wellbeing priorities into an organisation’s operations.”

Just under three in ten businesses provide guidance/training for line managers on how to support people to stay at work when managing health conditions. While there is only a small positive change to wellbeing budgets, sickness absences have risen substantially. This stands at 7.8 days on average per employee per year, the highest level in a decade and two days more than in 2019 (5.8 days).

The report recommends three actions for employers moving forward. They are to:

  • Develop a strategic and holistic approach to ensure health and wellbeing priorities are integrated across the business. A stand-alone plan is an opportunity to set out your organisation’s aims and communicate the responsibilities of different groups, including a senior-level sponsor, HR, occupational health, managers and employees.
  • Ensure line managers are checking in regularly with their team, spotting any early warning signs of poor wellbeing and referring to expert sources of help where needed. The CIPD and Mind People managers’ guide to mental health can help managers facilitate conversations about stress and mental health.
  • How line managers behave and the relationships they build will be instrumental in how effectively they support employee wellbeing. The CIPD has developed these resources to help managers explore and develop their management capability.

Suff said, “Many are investing considerable resources in employee wellbeing but are not fully realising the benefits. More will realise a greater return on their investment if they take a systematic and preventative approach.”

She added, “This means getting under the skin of headline sickness rates to gather data on wider trends such as presenteeism, leaveism and employee engagement. There are several other areas where organisations could fine- tune their approach, including a stronger focus on evaluating the impact of health and wellbeing initiatives, improving the capability of line managers to support people’s mental health, and integrating wellbeing support throughout the employee lifecycle.”

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