Too busy to be ill – employees downplay illness despite bosses’ best intentions

Despite workplace health being a major priority for business decision makers across the UK, employees are still hiding illness and injury and delaying seeking help.

According to new research from Bupa and Babylon Health, seven in 10 employees (70%) have delayed or put off seeking medical advice when they should, despite the majority of business leaders having no issue with colleagues taking time off to deal with health issues.

So despite 85% of all business decision-makers stating that workplace health is a top priority, employees still aren’t being as open as they should, often playing down their illness or injury (32%) or feeling too busy to miss office hours (27%).

Men, young workers (18-34), Londoners and those employed in SMEs are all more likely than average to delay or put off seeking help.1 The data also shows that those in manual roles (vs. clerical) are more likely to shrug off illness or injury.2

A potential solution is making medical appointments less difficult to access, with six in 10 (59%) employees saying they want to be able to speak to a doctor over the phone, online or through an app. It’s for this reason that Bupa now includes Babylon Health app services, as standard for business customers, in addition to its telephone Direct Access service for cancer and mental health.

Mark Allan, Commercial Director, Bupa UK, said: “As much as those in decision-making positions really want their employees to put their health first, they’re competing against a strong resistance from those who will strive to soldier on. This is particularly the case with those employees in SME businesses, amongst others.

“As an SME, your people are your greatest asset, which is why giving colleagues multiple routes to get help can only be a good thing – be it over the phone, online through clinically approved resources or via an app like Babylon. And if you can encourage greater self-care by providing convenient solutions, we believe companies will really benefit by having a healthier, happier workforce. This is of course a good in itself, but has also been shown to boost productivity in the long run.”

Mairi Johnson, Chief Partnerships Officer, Babylon, said: “We’re getting a lot of positive feedback from SMEs and their employees. They really value the Babylon service. Employers are telling us that by giving their staff fast and convenient access to health information and doctors via the Babylon app, they’re seeing happier, more productive and more present workforces. By taking just 20 minutes out of their day to see a doctor, instead of the usual 2 to 3-hour GP visits, employees are being able to save time, effort and energy.”

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Author: Editorial Team

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