Looking beyond stress to employee wellbeing

By Matt Weston 13th May 2019

There are few things which test a business’ employee wellbeing initiative like a period of change and uncertainty. With the increased use of technology and digitalisation the world of work is evolving, geopolitical change and increased regulation are just some of the changes that businesses and their employees are having to navigate. All of this change can feed into employee stress levels and negatively affect their happiness at work.

It’s time we started looking beyond stress to invest more time, energy and attention to employee wellbeing: what fosters it, what sustains it, and why it’s so crucial to the success of your business.

Stress and wellbeing: the trends

It’s been reported that between 2017 and 2018, 15.4 million working days were lost to work-related stress. The rate of self-reported work-related stress, depression or anxiety has remained broadly flat but in the last three years has shown signs of increasing.

According to Towers Watson’s Global Benefits Attitudes survey, 57% of employees who claimed to be experiencing high-stress levels reported to be disengaged at work.

As stress and burnout can inhibit performance at work, while happiness can boost productivity, it’s important for organisations today to offer a supportive workplace that promotes employee wellbeing to foster productivity.

Enhancing productivity and reaping the benefits

Our research has found that 44% of UK businesses have implemented wellness schemes at work and over a third (34%) said that they endeavoured to discuss happiness and wellbeing with employees frequently.

To help foster employee wellbeing, many businesses are implementing flexible working hours or remote working. This can be an effective way to promote a healthy work-life balance, but only when employers don’t abuse it.

The benefits of having a rested, engaged and productive team speak for themselves. The University of Warwick found that there was a 12% productivity spike in employees who were happier at work—a fact which employers are beginning to recognise and encourage.

The digital transformation of businesses is also predicted to contribute towards how productive employees will become in the future. Increased productivity (46%) and more focus on value-add tasks (21%) were two of the ways CFOs felt that technology would help their workforces over the course of the year.

Wellbeing aids retention 

Stress hurts retention strategies, which in-turn hurts company growth. During this ongoing talent shortage, no business wants to lose top performers over something as simple as a lack of wellbeing awareness.

Almost half of UK workers know someone who has left a role for stress-related reasons. Some simple solutions to improve your talent attraction and retention rates should include flexible working, hiring temporary professionals to give support during busy times and encouraging a healthy work-life balance.

Inspiring and maintaining workplace happiness

In our experience, workplace happiness for UK professionals is driven by three factors: 'pride in the organisation', 'being treated with fairness and respect', and 'feeling appreciated'.

Workplace wellbeing is directly connected to all three of these factors: creating a healthy workplace and opening a dialogue about stress and wellbeing, allowing employees to disconnect from work, and offering flexibility to balance their work and family commitments.

When you invest in the wellbeing of your employees, you’ll see the benefits in your bottom line and your company culture. As the world of work evolves, keeping your employees passionate and supported through this change will be a benefit for all.

At Robert Half, we want to ensure our candidates, clients and employees can be happy at work and taking a proactive approach to improving mental wellbeing can’t be overlooked as part of that journey. This May, we are proud to have launched our partnership with Mind, the leading mental health charity in the UK as our official charity for 2019.


Matt Weston, Managing Director, Robert Half UK

Matt has worked for Robert Half for more than 18 years; he began his career as a recruitment consultant for Robert Half Finance and Accounting in 1999. Matt quickly excelled as a top consultant and earned a number of prestigious awards including being recognised four times as Robert Half’s worldwide number one consultant. With extensive experience in financial recruitment in the UK, Matt is a familiar industry figure and a valuable spokesperson on current trends affecting the market. 

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