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Boosting workforce health can help the UK achieve economic growth ambitions, says CBI

A new index which benchmarks businesses’ health provision is launched today by the CBI to help tackle the record long-term sickness absence levels restricting the UK’s productivity and undermining economic growth ambitions.

Data shows the UK loses 131 million working days a year to ill-health, costing the nation around £180billion in GDP.

The ONS is today due to publish new data that further reinforces the need to address the number of people leaving the labour market through ill health. The labour shortages this creates has a damaging impact on productivity; growing the economy will be impossible without a healthy population.

With workplaces known to be an effective influencer of health behaviours, the CBI – working with Business for Health and supported by the NHS and HM Government – is today launching a first iteration of its Work Health Index (WHI) to benchmark private sector health provision across the economy.

The WHI will give all businesses the opportunity to diagnose the strength of their health offer and benchmark it against peers. It will cover all workplace policies, practices and provision designed to support employee health and wellbeing, from cycle to work schemes to counselling to parental leave policies.

In the immediate term, it will help firms understand their competitiveness and enhance their employee value proposition. In the longer term, it should help businesses to create better work environments and support better health outcomes across the working age population – resulting in elevated workplace productivity.

Brian McBride, CBI President, said:  

“Labour market resilience is a precondition to growth. Without healthy, productive employees, the UK economy will be unable to achieve the growth it sorely needs.

“Businesses understand the link between health and wealth, and have a major role to play. While the NHS continues to serve us all in our moments of immediate need, employers across the UK have a golden window emerging from the pandemic to lean into long-term measures which enhance employee health and wellbeing.

“With the UK staring down a fiscally constrained period, the moment to boost the UK’s preventative health model is now. The Work Health Index is here to help achieve just that.” 

With workforce health higher than ever before on the business agenda in the wake of the pandemic, the CBI believes this is the ideal time to launch this partnership between industry, Government and the health service.

By uniting these stakeholders, the CBI believes it can further grow businesses’ appreciation of employee wellbeing as an investment rather than a cost.

The next steps will see the CBI’s Health team working closely with partners across Government and the health service, and continuing its strategic partnership with Business for Health to bring the Work Health Index through private sector testing to public usage in 2023. 

Tom Pursglove MP, Minister for Disabled People, said:

“It is clear a healthier, more productive workforce is key to driving growth and tackling inactivity. Government and employers must work together to unlock talent from those who may be facing health barriers.

“We also know that being in work boosts wellbeing, and that is why our initiatives including additional Work Coach time are supporting people with health conditions into work.

“We’re building on this with schemes like our new £6.4 million online service giving employers free advice and guidance to support staff with health issues to stay in, or return to, work. We are delighted to support the CBI’s Work Health Index which complements this by providing employers with the tools they need to build healthier, more inclusive workforces.”

Minister for Primary Care and Public Health Neil O’Brien said:

“A healthy and resilient workforce is vital for the economy of our nation, and any steps employers make to improve the health and wellbeing of their staff are commended.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to level-up health and care across the country, and the CBI’s Work Health Index provides a great example of using data to drive employer action to improve the health of their workforce.”

John Godfrey, Business for Health Chair, said: 

“Business has a huge role in public health: as employers, as providers of healthy goods and services and as drivers of healthy local economies.

“This Index with the support of the CBI starts to tackle the first of these. Business is shifting the dial on climate, it is in our interest to do the same on health.”


Original article link: https://www.cbi.org.uk/media-centre/articles/boosting-workforce-health-can-help-the-uk-achieve-economic-growth-ambitions-says-cbi/

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