Wellbeing & Benefits

Over a fifth (22%) of the UK workforce did not use all their paid holiday allowance in 2014, according to the latest research from Canada Life Group Insurance. The findings suggest employees are being prevented from taking the time off they are entitled to.

The number of employees not taking their full holiday allowance has fallen by just 1 percentage point since 2014 (23%), painting a worrying picture of work/life balance in the UK. At the same time, almost nine in ten (89%) employees have admitted to coming into work when unwell as presenteeism continues to plague the UK workforce.

Around one in seven (15%) blame staffing issues – for example, maternity leave or members of staff leaving – as the reason they did not taking their full holiday allowance. This is almost double the number who said the same in 2014 (8%). A worrying 5% said their organisation actually discouraged employees from taking time off, while 16% failed to plan their time adequately and ran out of opportunities to use their annual leave.

Employees don’t believe health and wellbeing is a priority in their organisation

Employees believe their organisations prioritise profit over wellbeing, with only 9% citing staff health and wellbeing as their employers’ top priority.  Cost efficiency was cited most frequently by employees (36%) – four times the number who said health and wellbeing was their organisation’s top priority – while employee output in relation to business profit came second (26%).

What staff believe their employer prioritises over employee health and wellbeing

Cost efficiency 36%
Employee output in relation to business profits 26%
Investing in better equipment e.g. improved computers 13%
Employee training and development programmes 12%
Investing in office facilities e.g. kitchen and common areas 10%
Investing in advertising and marketing 10%
Employee health and wellbeing is the top priority in my organization 9%
Other 2%
None of the above 32%

N.B. percentages will not add up to 100 as respondents could select more than one answer


Vast majority of staff do not have or are unaware of Employee Assistance Programmes

 Just 8% of employees surveyed know they have an Employee Assistance Programme, half the number (16%) who said their employer definitely does not offer any support of this kind. In addition, almost half (45%) aren’t aware or do not know of any workplace support for sickness absence, highlighting the need for greater clarity from employers.

When given the choice of employer-provided protection, such as Group Income Protection, over a quarter (28%) of employees said it would provide them with peace of mind, while 14% have already experienced a situation where such a programme would have helped.

These findings raise concerns about the level of support organisations offer to promote employee health and wellbeing, leaving staff with low morale and an unhealthy work/life balance.

Paul Avis, Marketing Director of Canada Life Group Insurance, comments: “Despite the heightened competition to hire top talent, organisations are still failing to provide the work/life balance employees want and need. Retention of trained staff is a key concern for employers, and failing to promote an ethos of wellbeing among employees will have a negative impact on staff turnover in the long term. Individuals that don’t have adequate time off are likely to feel stressed and burnt-out, resulting in a direct hit to productivity.

“Employers need to communicate that they won’t penalise staff for taking the leave entitled to them but also that support is available when they are genuinely in need of help, whether that be work life balance juggling, stress or anxiety and depression. Employee Assistance Programmes are a great way of providing support for all stages of life. At a time when salaries are improving and all employees now offer pensions, employers need to think of other ways to appeal to top-calibre staff. An Employee Assistance Programme ensures workers feel valued and provides the necessary support should any problems occur.”

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