A fifth (21%) of employers express concern about employees living with long-term chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, certain types of cancer, or multiple sclerosis, according to research commissioned by GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector.

This concern aligns with the current government’s focus on retaining employees and facilitating their continued employment to improve the UK’s productivity.

As of July 2023, 2.6 million of the 8.78 million economically inactive people in the UK cited long-term chronic illnesses as the reason, according to the Office for National Statistics. GRiD emphasises the importance of employers providing support and being flexible to successfully retain those living with long-term illnesses.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, commented:

Staff resignations due to chronic illness are not inevitable. Employers who have support in place and are prepared to be flexible and accommodating can successfully retain those who live with long-term illnesses.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD

The Connection Between Good Work and Employee Wellbeing

It is widely recognised that good work contributes to an individual’s wellbeing, providing a social environment, a salary, and a sense of self-worth. Conversely, when someone’s ability to work in a stimulating environment is hindered, their mental and physical health may deteriorate.

Employers are encouraged to consider various ways to support their employees, including fast-track vocational rehab, talking therapies, virtual GP services, second medical opinion services, health apps, and more. Group risk benefits such as employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection, and critical illness can offer a comprehensive solution for such support.

Katharine Moxham highlights the importance of adapting support based on the employee’s changing needs before and after a long-term illness diagnosis. Employers are urged not to wait for government solutions but to take advantage of the existing support.

Barriers to Health and Wellbeing Support Implementation

As companies plan their health and wellbeing programs for 2024, Towergate Health & Protection releases research highlighting key considerations. The study reveals that one-third (33%) of companies identify high costs as the greatest barrier to offering better health and wellbeing support. However, Debra Clark, head of wellbeing at Towergate Health & Protection, emphasises that cost-effective options are available.

Another significant barrier, identified by 20% of companies, is having too few employees to make support worthwhile. Smaller companies are reminded of the heightened impact absences can have and the availability of health and wellbeing options tailored to every company size.

Administrative challenges, mentioned by 19% of companies, are attributed to a potential lack of knowledge about available options. Online benefits platforms are recommended to streamline the process and deliver automated communications tailored to workforce demographics.

Benefits and Advantages of Health and Wellbeing Support

When asked about the advantages of offering health and wellbeing support, companies highlight increased staff loyalty (37%), improved staff retention (35%), and boosted productivity (34%). Other benefits include increased engagement (30%), reduced absenteeism (25%), and support for recruitment (20%).

Debra Clark concludes:

While there are of course cost and time implications involved in offering the best possible, and most appropriate, health and wellbeing support programme, it is important that these are seen in context with the huge advantages to be gained.

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.