At Bupa we want to be at the forefront of discussions about the health of the UK workforce, in particular leading the conversation around supporting good mental health both in and outside of the workplace. This is why we sponsored the Confederation of British Industries’ (CBI) recent health and wellbeing report – Front of Mind.
The report, based on a survey of CBI member firms, highlights how important it is that businesses prioritise the health and wellbeing of their employees. The report was launched in front an audience of representatives from corporates, trade associations and training providers, including Barclays, Zurich, McKinsey and the University of Warwick. Sarah Newton, Minister of State for Disabled People, Work and Health, was the keynote speaker at the launch event and I was pleased to take part in a panel discussion, alongside Dr. Gill MacLeod, Executive Director, HCA, Gregor Craig, President and CEO, Skanska UK, and Steve Fogg, Manager Director Shared Services, BAE Systems.
It was a great opportunity to hear from my fellow panelists and business leaders in the room about the work that is being carried out across workplaces in the UK to create an environment where people can feel comfortable speaking up about their mental and physical health. There’s no ‘silver bullet’ when it comes to health and wellbeing at work, but the report does highlight some broad lessons for all businesses. The report makes clear how important senior leader engagement is in successfully implementing a change in workplace culture, and in promoting the importance of supporting both mental and physical health at work.
One in four people in the UK will experience poor mental health each year and it is now the number one reason for someone to be off work, with big implications for businesses – the CBI’s research suggests that UK businesses spend on average £720 per person every year due to absence related to poor health. As I made clear during the panel discussion to launch the report, we believe that fast access to early intervention is critical – especially for mental health - and health insurance can play a key role in providing this. It’s the reason we’ve taken a progressive approach to mental health and launched our Bupa Business Mental Health Advantage . It gives employees certainty that they will be able to access the right support whenever they need it. Critically, if their condition ever comes back, as it often can with mental health, then they are still covered.
The fact that there is an appetite from businesses to do more is fantastic, and we will continue to work closely with businesses across the country to help them support their staff. However, we agree with the CBI that there is also a role for government to play in encouraging more investment in workplace health and wellbeing. That’s why we’re also pleased to see the CBI calling on the Government to freeze the current rate of IPT in the short term and to review how health insurance is treated in the tax system in order to allow more employers to do more to safeguard their people’s health and wellbeing.
Building a healthy and mentally resilient workforce across the UK will require all of us – insurers, employers, charities and the Government – to play their part and the CBI’s Front of Mind report is an important contribution to this discussion.