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UK global well-being rankings take a nose-dive

Britain’s position in global well-being rankings have fallen from 3rd to 8th place as economic and political uncertainties grow

26 July 2017
Kimberley Dondo

Cigna’s annual 360° Well-being Survey revealed the UK’s ranking has fallen from 3rd place in 2015, to 5th in 2016 and now 8th place in the 2017 survey which was released today. Britain has now fallen behind India, Thailand, China, Spain, UAE, Indonesia and New Zealand consecutively in global well-being rankings.

The survey took into account five main components of people’s sense of well-being, these included:

  • Physical health
  • Family lives
  • Social lives
  • Finances
  • And work

Employees in the UK who took part in the survey felt that their position had declined in each criterion during 2016. Over half (53%) of those surveyed, especially felt that their family life had suffered the most as they no longer felt they had enough time to spend with their family.

Working parents were mostly concerned with their ability to look after their children’s financial needs with only a third (38%) feeling they could take care of those needs. Furthermore, working parents also worried about long-term care for their elderly parents, with only one in four (26%) believing they could take care of their parents’ financial needs and less than two in five (38%) saying they could take care of their parents’ health and well-being.

Over half (53%) of respondents felt that they did not have a good work life balance as they felt growing pressures in their workload with little to no assistance from health schemes, which would contribute to their overall health and well-being. Only a third (32%) felt their workplace wellness programme matched their needs. Of those that had employer sponsored wellness programmes, 58% felt they led to positive health outcomes and 54% felt it increased employee engagement.

Commenting on the findings, Peter Mills, medical director at Cigna Global Health Benefits, said that he was not surprised:

“Today, people are faced with an uncertain political and economic environment, and concerns about the future are inevitably taking a toll on their well-being. People feel that they are not spending enough time with their families, and they’re also worried about the future - for their children, for themselves and for their parents.”

“Britain’s fall in the global rankings is not only a concern for families, but for businesses as well. It is a clear early warning sign that employers need to start thinking more deeply about how to better support employees’ work-life balance. With half our waking hours spent at work, it will require a combined work-life solution in order to improve the nation’s overall well-being.”

Employees mindset on well-being has clearly shifted and not just within the UK. Internationally, 66% of people regarded their workplace insurance as an important part of their employment, with 59%% saying their workplace wellness programme would decide whether they chose to leave their current employer.

Mills continues: “The UK not only lags behind many other countries in terms of well-being, it also falls behind in the prevention and awareness programmes offered by employers to promote long-term health. To remedy this, we need both support from employers and demand from employees to create the optimum package which will deliver a better work-life balance and improved well-being.”

Financial woes also plagued half of the respondents who said the current economic environment was having a negative impact on their current financial situation. Of all the countries surveyed in this study, the UK scored poorly on every single financial measure which included, current finances, provision for retirement, meeting medical needs and maintaining a standard of living.

It seems that the majority of Britons are deferring thoughts of saving for retirement to the future as Cigna’s research shows that just one fifth (20%) of workers think they will have sufficient money for their retirement. The research indicates that this lack of provision is due to Britons perception that old age is far off, even when they are over 50, creating an “age trap” where they put their heads in the sand when it comes to saving for retirement.

Unsurprisingly millennials were most concerned about their financial situation if they were unable to work, with only 20% believing they would be financially secure if they were suddenly unemployed.

Averil Leimon, leadership psychologist with the White Water Group adds: "Uncertainty and anxiety undermine well-being. In earlier eras, you might believe you knew where you were: you had got a job, a final salary pension that you knew about a long time ahead, and a mortgage eventually paid it off as security. Now nothing feels as clear cut. One of the most stressful factors is a sense of being out of control, or not having the knowledge that can make it easier to make decisions about your future."


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