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Businesses show low interest in employee health

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Only 11 per cent of businesses are committed to improving employee health and, worryingly, many have no initiatives in place to promote wellbeing.

That is according to new research into the government’s Responsibility Deal scheme, which was set up two years ago to help promote better awareness of health issues in shared office spaces.

The study – commissioned by PMI Health Group – also showed that 77 per cent of firms were not even aware that the government scheme, which helps businesses implement health strategies, even exists.

“The Responsibility Deal appears to have struggled so far in its aim to make business take greater responsibility for public health,” said PMI Health Group director Mike Blake.

Mr Blake cited costs as one factor that dissuades companies from implementing schemes to improve the wellbeing of staff, particularly in times of economic hardship.

However, this should not be the case as measures to improve employee health can in turn reduce sickness and boost overall productivity among staff members.

Of the suggestions outlined in the Responsibility Deal, one that has proved most popular is the walk or cycle to work proposal, with 52 per cent of those surveyed saying they plan to implement this among staff in the future.

In addition, respondents to PMI’s survey showed a willingness to introduce support for long-term, chronic conditions, while smoking cessation support (33 per cent), occupational health services (26 per cent) and health checks (20 per cent) also proved popular.

Every year 170 million working days are lost because people are too sick to go into the office with work-related ill health (23 million) and injuries suffered while on the job (four million) resulting in a large number of days taken off, according to a report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

TUC’s Frances O’Grady said: “Far too many days a year are being lost through ill health. Sensible employers who are able to identify problems at an early stage, and who introduce changes to prevent ill health and promote well-being will reduce sickness absence and increase productivity.”