- Heart disease remains number one cause of death for males in the UK*
- Stress is top concern for employers, followed by depression and anxiety
- Women’s health is the third biggest concern for employers
Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm, has found that UK employers are nearly twice as likely to be concerned about employee stress than heart-related health conditions, even though heart disease remains the number one cause of death for males in the UK*. Ninety-six percent of employers are concerned about stress in the workplace, while just 44 percent are concerned about heart disease.
Aon’s UK Benefits and Trends Survey 2022 shows that employers are most concerned about stress (96 percent), depression and anxiety (89 percent), women’s health (73 percent), muscoloskeletal conditions (67 percent) and men’s health (67 percent). They place heart-related conditions, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes at 44 percent, 40 percent, 36 percent and 33 percent, respectively.
Mark Witte, principal, Health and Risk, Aon, said:
“It isn’t surprising that stress is the highest concern for employers, given the increased pressures people have faced at home and work over the past two years. Indeed, figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)** show there were approximately 602,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety during 2018/19. By 2020/21, numbers had risen to 822,000 – a 38 percent increase.
“At the other end of the scale, employers are less concerned about heart-related conditions, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. This is somewhat concerning as heart disease remains the number one cause of death for males in the UK, according to the Office of National Statistics, and poor lifestyles giving rise to these health issues are risk factors for a multitude of other conditions.”
Aon’s survey also shows a trend of UK employers focusing on the prevention of health issues through healthcare spend, recognising good practices that help build a resilient workforce as well as showing sound economic sense. Seventy-eight percent of employers are focusing their spend on prevention, 50 percent on detection of ill health and early intervention, 43 percent on access to treatment and 23 percent on long-term support, illustrating investment that correlates with where employees are most likely to be in their health journey.
An employer health and wellbeing programme consists of many components, according to survey respondents. Seventy-three percent of employers focus on communications, aligning with the theme of prevention is better than a cure. The next most common components relate to supporting mental health (mental health awareness training at 69 percent and mental health first aid training at 63 percent).
Mark Witte adds: “General wellbeing appears lower on employers’ list of priorities, with fewer supporting employees in areas such as physical activity (48 percent), nutrition (44 percent) smoking cessation (25 percent) or weight loss programmes (16 percent).
“Improving lifestyle behaviours and detecting the early signs of ill-health deserve parity with other dimensions of wellbeing. In our view, physical wellbeing should remain a focus for all wellbeing strategies, especially given the significant physical, emotional and financial impact conditions can have for the individual and those around them both at home and in the workplace. A holistic approach to wellbeing will be most effective in building a resilient workforce.”
Aon’s annual survey shows trends in employer benefits strategies, highlighting issues experienced by employers and employees. In its 12th year, the survey took into account the experiences of 253 HR, employee benefit and reward professionals from across the UK in a variety of sectors. Seventeen percent of respondents stated their organisation employs more than 5,000 people; 33 percent employ between 1,001 and 5,000 people; 13 percent employ 501 to 1,000 people; 10 percent employ 251 to 500 and 27 percent employ fewer than 250 people.
* Office of National Statistics (ONS)
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