New research from global health service company Cigna Healthcare reveals a concerning trend among British workers, with the majority (54%) working beyond traditional work times, signalling an end to the conventional 9 to 5 workday.

The study highlights a critical issue, as nearly nine out of ten (88%) UK employees are showing signs of burnout. This is exacerbated by the fact that nearly half (47%) feel their employer places more emphasis on productivity than on staff mental health and well-being.

The situation is further complicated by the stress levels reported by workers. Over three-quarters (78%) of employees report feeling stressed, and among these, a fifth admit that their stress levels negatively impact their productivity. Cigna Healthcare emphasises the urgent need for organisations to refocus their priorities, placing employee health at the core of their growth and profit strategies.

To address these challenges and support businesses in creating a healthier work environment, Cigna Healthcare has identified several top tips for implementing an effective health plan:

Effective health plan – top tips

  1. Be flexible, not dictatorial, especially with working hours.​ Employees are putting more emphasis on work/life balance to support health and overall well-being.
  2. Build an empathetic culture that allows people to open up about physical and mental issues.​ Employee health cannot be addressed openly and honestly unless the workplace is a safe space for people to talk about their concerns.
  3. Keep up with digital trends and use remote, virtual health tools. Have employees fill out a Health Risk Assessment (HRA) to gain insight into their general health and lifestyle. Using insights from the HRA, businesses can implement changes in their organisation and monitor their success.
  4. Take a long-term view,supporting employees in their health journey by offering preventative care, as well as reactive cover.​ This can inspire employees to participate in health programs and ultimately take control of their health.
  5. Use rewards to drive healthier behaviours offering wearables and fitness club memberships, for example. Digital devices allow people to proactively monitor their health on an ongoing basis which can help with engagement.
  6. Make a noise. Every health plan needs a communication plan to help people see the benefits of their cover.
  7. Spot issues early using line managers and mental health first aiders.​ Be mindful that managers aren’t perfect – they need to be trained to listen to employees and to recognise the signs.
  8. Be culturally sensitive. For many employees, talking about their health needs is not only an uncomfortable intrusion to who they are in the workplace but also who they are as people. It’s important to recognise one size doesn’t fit all, and adapt to beliefs, behaviours, values and languages.

Cigna Healthcare’s commitment to enhancing workplace health is further demonstrated through its new initiative, Your Health Plan, Your Growth Plan. This program is specifically designed for UK SMEs and multinational companies with expatriate employees. It aims to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of prioritising profit over employee well-being, which often leads to burnout, chronic illnesses, and mental health issues.

Jason Sadler, President of International Health at Cigna Healthcare, commented:

While cutting costs can be instinctive during tough economic times, investing in healthcare can actually reap benefits for the business. Our new campaign aims to shift the conversation towards employee health as a driver of business growth, and how investment in healthcare could in fact be a solution to create value.

Jason Sadler, President of International Health at Cigna Healthcare

The urgency of addressing these issues is underscored by the staggering global cost of poor mental health on productivity, with 12 billion workdays lost annually, equating to a loss of US$1 trillion. In the UK, this translates to an average of 18 million workdays lost each year to mental health conditions. Furthermore, Cigna’s Globally Mobile Vitality Study reveals that expatriates are particularly affected, with prolonged working hours, high burnout rates, and elevated stress levels compared to local counterparts.

Joanne Swann, Content Manager, WorkWellPro
Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website

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.