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The role of happiness in the productivity puzzle as majority of UK workers ‘struggle’ and ‘coast’ through their job

Two-thirds of UK workers admit to coasting or struggling in the workplace with just 18% reporting they’re flourishing, finds a survey published today by Barnett Waddingham.

Why BWell 2017 questioned UK workers to determine the overall level of well-being and happiness in the workplace. The survey found 80% of employees perceive the level of wellbeing within their organisation to be moderate or low and a quarter is struggling to manage the pressures of the workplace, despite 64% suggesting their overall happiness as happy or very happy.

A third of UK workers admit their job has a negative impact on their mental health, with the same number believing their overall well-being is not important to their employer. Moreover, 22% say negative attitudes from their managers at work hinder their ability to balance work and family commitments.

The survey also looked at employee retention alongside employers’ understanding of staff engagement in the company objectives. Overall 25% admitted they couldn’t see themselves working for the same company in five years’ time and 36% feel they either didn’t understand their company’s overall strategy or didn’t know if they understood it or not.

Within the report, Barnett Waddingham compares the responses to The UK Wellbeing Index 2017, which contains employer views on wellbeing. There appears to be a disconnect between what organisations say they feel about wellbeing and what employees experience from their employers, with just 21% of employees who believe wellbeing is very important to their organisation in comparison to 71% of organisations who state this.

Further report highlights:

  • Nine in 10 agree that a happier workplace is more productive
  • 89% see the importance of a healthy work-life balance 
  • 55% are unsure or have no certain outlook for retirement
  • There is a notable correlation between older respondents to the survey and those in the higher earning brackets reporting better well-being overall


Laura Matthews, workplace wellbeing consultant at Barnett Waddingham, said; ““The term wellbeing continues to be an industry buzzword with many organisations starting to realise the true importance of this. Strategies are often focused exclusively on health, whereas there are many other factors to be considered such as the culture of a firm, support from line management or even down to where employees are on their financial journey.

“There is a comparable difference between what employers think their employees want in comparison to what the employees really need. Addressing the needs of the workforce with a bespoke yet holistic wellbeing strategy is important to improve overall wellbeing, happiness, productivity and staff retention; enabling them to flourish and make more informed educated choices. Measurement of this is key to tracking the return on investment and ensuring the strategy remains fit for purpose.

“With some consideration, UK companies can take a number of simple steps to reduce workplace pressure, create a better environment for them to flourish by bridging the gap with their employees.”