Rachel Suff, Senior Policy Advisor, at the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD), spoke at our recent Mental Health in the Workplace Conference, on the topic of strategic approaches for strengthening workplace wellbeing.

She said “At CIPD, we are dedicated to championing better work and working lives. As the professional body for HR and people development, primarily UK-based but with offices worldwide, our mission is to place health and wellbeing at the heart of our purpose. Without supporting health at work, fulfilling working lives are unattainable.

Our annual health and wellbeing work survey, supported by Simply Health, has been running for nearly 25 years. It offers valuable insights into the world of work from the perspective of HR professionals, allowing us to observe trends and changes over time.

In recent years, there has been a significant focus on health and wellbeing, particularly mental health. Organisations increasingly recognise the need for a holistic approach, as various work dimensions impact wellbeing. Key focus areas include mental health, social relationships, job design, work-life balance, and organisational values such as diversity and inclusion. Physical health, personal growth, and financial well-being are also essential but need more attention, especially in light of the current cost of living crisis.

These areas are interrelated. For instance, financial well-being is closely linked to mental health, as financial worries can cause stress. Similarly, physical and mental health are intertwined. Understanding this interdependence is crucial for a comprehensive approach to health and well-being.

The context of the past few years, marked by the pandemic and the cost of living crisis, has significantly impacted people’s health and well-being. Our survey recorded the highest sickness absence rate in 15 years, with an average of 7.8 days per employee per year, up from 5.8 days in 2019. This increase highlights the complexity of the issue, suggesting a need for better management of health and well-being in the workplace.

Mental ill health and stress are major contributors to both short-term and long-term sickness absence. Addressing these issues requires a continued focus on mental health and stress management. Workload and management style are primary stressors, underscoring the importance of effective management practices.

Organisations must adopt a risk-based approach to health and well-being, implementing evidence-based interventions tailored to specific health risks. This involves gathering and analysing data, conducting attitude surveys, and performing stress risk assessments.

Supporting employees throughout their lifecycles is also critical. Organisations need to address various life challenges, such as managing chronic health conditions, dealing with bereavement, going through menopause, and balancing caregiving responsibilities. Comprehensive support for these issues is essential for a holistic approach to health and well-being.

Line managers play a pivotal role in supporting health and well-being. They need to be trained, supported, and confident in discussing health issues with employees, and providing necessary support and guidance. A relationship based on trust and approachability is vital.

In conclusion, a holistic approach to health and well-being requires concerted effort at all organisational levels. By understanding and addressing the various factors impacting health and wellbeing, organisations can create a supportive and healthy work environment for their employees.”

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Rachel Suff, Senior Policy Advisor, at the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD), spoke at our recent Mental Health in the Workplace Conference, on the topic of holistic wellbeing.

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