Startling growth in employers worried workplace change will cause a health backlash

The threat to staff wellbeing arising from changes such as expansions, mergers or restructuring has escalated over the past 12 months, and is likely to increase as the pandemic takes its toll on the UK employment market.

Startling growth in employers worried workplace change will cause a health backlash

The Employee Wellbeing Research 2020 report, published by REBA in association with AXA PPP healthcare, found that the share of employers that cite organisational change as a risk to wellbeing increased by a huge 235% between 2019 and 2020. While 57% said this was a cause for concern this year, only 17% cited it as a major worry in 2019.

Staffing levels also now appear in the top three most common workforce risks, with just under half (43%) citing it as a risk to workforce health and wellbeing. This is a leap up from last year when understaffing was cited as a business concern by 22% of respondents, equating to a 95% rise.

Top of the risk list continues to be a high-pressure working environment – 69% of the 309 wellbeing, HR and employee benefits surveyed said this had a potentially damaging impact, echoing findings from last year and 2018. More than a third also identified a change in working practices as a worry.

The results chime with employers’ increasing concern about the mental health of their employees, said the report. Both organisational change and staffing levels are associated with poorer wellbeing, it highlighted.

It pinpointed economic turbulence stemming from Brexit as being the main factor adding to organisational pressures.

During 2019, difficulties with recruitment put a strain on staffing levels and many businesses sought to restructure or relocate “to protect themselves as much as possible from Brexit-related economic headwinds”.

The research goes on to warn that employers will have to continue to be mindful of organisational risks such as staffing levels and change during 2020, as COVID-19 has thrown the global economy into disarray.

Download a copy of the 92-page Employee Wellbeing Research 2020 (free to REBA Professional Members).

The author is Rima Evans, freelance writer for REBA.

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