Last updated: 27.08.15

Leaders 'failing to accept responsibility for employee wellbeing'

Employer attitudes are shifting away from accepting responsibility, after a new study has found that half of leaders and heads of HR do not believe that their organisation has a duty of care for employee wellbeing.

Conducted by leadership development specialist Morgan Redwood, the research revealed that only 46 per cent of firms in the UK consider staff health to be an employer's responsibility.

This contrasts with Morgan Redwood's 2009 study, which unveiled 95 per cent of businesses accepted responsibility for the health of their workforce.

The results of the recent study are somewhat surprising, considering 26 per cent of respondents said that business performance and staff wellbeing are "very closely connected", while a further 57 per cent believe them to be "quite connected".

On the other hand, seven per cent of business leaders did not deem business performance and staff wellbeing to be connected at all.

What's more, the study revealed that helping staff to achieve a better work-life balance was considered as the 10th most important HR priority, with only six per cent of respondents believing it to be a key aspect of their strategy.

The wellbeing of employees was rated even lower, coming in as the 12th most important priority, while attracting better talent to the business ranked in as the top priority for employers, with 39 per cent believing this to be the most important aspect.

This was followed by reducing staff churn (37 per cent) and reducing staff costs (35 per cent).

Janice Haddon, managing director at Morgan Redwood, said: "The latest findings really do indicate a startling shift in employer opinion. A swing from 95 per cent to 46 per cent is a huge difference. What has caused such a sea change?

"In 2014 the CIPD reported that 40 per cent of employers are seeing a rise in stress related absence and reported mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, so the fact that companies are less inclined to see wellbeing as within their remit of responsibility is perplexing.”

Ms Haddon added: "Burnt out, poorly treated employees will end up becoming detrimental in the long run, so employers need to ensure they allocate sufficient resource to cater to the full spectrum of employee needs."

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