Britain's £92 Billion Productivity Loss: Nation's 'First Productive Day' Is Now 21st February
21st February, 2020
- New data from Vitality reveals that the UK economy lost almost £92 billion in 2019 (£91.9 billion) as a result of ill-health related absence and presenteeism in the workplace
- British businesses lost an average of 38 working days per employee to physical and mental health related absence and presenteeism in 2019 – added to the start of this year, that makes today, February 21st, the UK’s ‘first productive day'
- Productivity is on the decline – five years ago, only 23 working days were lost per employee (2014 survey data)
Today is the ‘first productive day’ of the year for
British employees, as new data finds
that 38 working days were lost, on average, by each employee in 2019 due to physical and mental health related
absence and presenteeism.
While in reality these days are spread out across
the whole year, 38 days from the beginning of the year is February 21, meaning Vitality is calling
today the UK’s ‘first productive day’.
data, from health insurer Vitality’s annual Britain’s Healthiest Workplace
study, suggests that this ill-health related absence and presenteeism cost
British businesses and the economy an estimated £91.9bn in 2019, an over £10bn
increase on 2018.
Almost three-quarters of the £91.9bn (£68 billion) productivity
loss can be attributed to factors such as poor mental wellbeing and unhealthy
lifestyle choices, which can
be addressed by businesses through effective deployment of health and wellbeing
study, now in its eighth year, is developed by Vitality and delivered in
partnership with RAND Europe, the University of Cambridge, and Mercer, and is one of the
largest and most comprehensive surveys on workplace wellbeing in the UK,
surveying 26,393 employees and 130 businesses across the UK in 2019.
rise of presenteeism
study showed a further rise in presenteeism -– where employees turn up for work but are unable to give their best - due
to mental and physical health concerns, with just under half (45%) of UK workers admitting
to suffering from presenteeism in 2019, up almost a third from 2014 (29%)
and highlighting how critical the
issue is for British business.
workers (18 to 25-year-olds) were also shown to be particularly vulnerable,
with 55% admitting to turning up for work but feeling unable to perform at their
peak productivity, compared to just 38% of employees aged 45 or over.
health in the workplace
The study also
indicates the critical need for businesses to further address workplace mental wellbeing,
with workers’ stress, depression and anxiety costing the economy £30 billion
The results show rates of depression amongst workers
have more than doubled in the past five years with almost one in 10 workers now affected (8.5%), compared to just 4% in
employees aged 18 to 25 years old are most likely to struggle with their mental
health with almost 1 in 7 young workers suffering from depression (15%) and
many more saying they have felt unwell because of stress in the workplace (35%).
This is far higher than the over-50s group, with 4% saying they had suffered
from depression and 32% having felt unwell as a result of workplace stress.
The study also
showed that across all UK employees, those with higher rates of stress and
anxiety made unhealthier choices overall – being more likely to smoke, binge
drink and have unhealthy diets.
the productivity puzzle
Vitality is today calling
on all British businesses to take urgent action to improve their businesses and
the nation’s worsening productivity levels.
The study found
examples of businesses making significant progress across the health and
wellness of their employees, and in turn productivity of the business. These
businesses were able to not only point to health and wellbeing schemes within
their workplace but high uptake of them.
This is significant given that the survey
shows the vast majority (75%) of those who do engage in health and wellbeing
initiatives report a positive impact on their overall health, yet overall awareness
and uptake of them is low (28% and 29% respectively).
Commenting on the publication of today’s data, Neville
Koopowitz, CEO at Vitality, said: “Every year the results of Britain’s Healthiest Workplace find the costs
to business from ill-health and presenteeism are spiralling upwards.
“Despite this, many
businesses continue to ignore the role of health and wellbeing and its
intrinsic links to productivity. It’s no longer enough to create a health and
wellbeing programme for employees and hope they’ll make use of it. The
businesses that not only prioritise it, but also properly consider how they
engage their employees to improve their mental and physical health, can see
productivity increase in their workforce by as much as 40%, which is no
Chris Bailey, Partner, Mercer Marsh Benefits,
said: “This is a watershed moment for UK
organisations, with greater than ever awareness around mental health, increased
focus on inclusion, and more opportunity to access large employee bases through
technology. In tackling the issue of wellbeing in the workplace, businesses
must reach beyond the latest tech and ensure the support offered to employees
is tailored and communicated well.”
Christian van Stolk, Vice President, RAND Europe,
know from the Britain’s Healthiest Workplace findings that year on year,
employees who participate in workplace interventions report a significant
improvement to physical and mental health as a result of such interventions. As
such, businesses need to do more to drive effective employee engagement - this is critical to addressing the issue of
productivity loss across our nation.”
register for Britain’s Healthiest Workplace 2020, visit: https://www.vitality.co.uk/business/healthiest-workplace/register/
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About Vitality – positively different health insurance, life insurance and investments
Vitality is part of Discovery Limited, a worldwide insurer and investment manager protecting more than eight million members in 18 countries worldwide, across Europe, the United States, Australia, South Africa, Canada and China.
Vitality pioneered the ‘shared-value’ insurance model, a unique approach based on the scientifically proven principles of behavioural economics. Through this model, Vitality helps members take a more active role in managing their own wellness, encouraging them to develop healthy long-term habits that are good for them, good for the company and good for society. The effect is positive for all stakeholders – members benefit from better health, financial rewards and additional incentives; employers benefit from healthier, more productive, and more engaged employees; and Vitality benefits from a healthier membership base.
Vitality Ambassadors Jessica Ennis-Hill, Heather Knight, Ellie Simmonds, Jos Buttler, Maro Itoje, Joe Root and Jonny Wilkinson are role models who embody the company’s values. They use their passion for living a healthy, active lifestyle to motivate others to make positive changes, promoting the message that taking small steps today can dramatically improve wellbeing over the long-term.