Press releases

Legal & General study finds national workplace wellbeing divide

Workers in the north of England have much lower opinions about how well their employers look after their wellbeing compared to their southern counterparts.

3 Feb 2022

Full press release

The research, published by Legal & General Group Protection found that just 59% of SME employees in the north of England believed their employer actively looked after their wellbeing, compared to 88% of those based in the south, suggesting a north/south divide.

But employers overall were far more confident that they supported the wellbeing of their employees. In the north, 83% of bosses felt they supported the mental wellbeing of workers, while in the south, this figure stood at 91%.

The study, which is part of L&G’s Wellbeing at Work Barometer, suggested that employers over-estimated the impact their workplace wellbeing initiatives had. In the north, over two thirds (69%) of employers believed their benefits and wellbeing programme had ‘good’ appeal to all their employees, yet only 38% of employees agreed. In the south, while a gap was still present, it was less significant (79% of employers vs. 65% of employees).

At the same time, employee respondents said they would be more likely to work for an organisation that was open about its commitment to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of its people. But employees in the south demanded this at a greater level (90%) than the north (75%).

The L&G Barometer also found that use of wellbeing benefits among SME employees was far lower in the north, with just one in five (19%) employees saying they had used the workplace benefits available to them. While in the south over three in five (65%) employees reported having used the benefits available to them. Similarly, on awareness of benefits, almost a quarter (24%) of employees in the north said they were unaware of the wellbeing workplace benefits available to them at all, compared to 12% in the south.

Colin Fitzgerald, Distribution Director at Legal & General Group Protection: “The need for workplace wellbeing is universal, yet our research shows that when it comes to wellbeing it appears that the age-old north/south divide is very much present. Employers that don’t have wellbeing either already embedded or as a priority to address are missing out on new talent as well as impacting on the effectiveness of their existing workforce. In an employee’s market – where the demand for talent is fast outstripping supply - this should be of serious cause for concern for employers.

Helping address health and wellbeing inequalities does not only make good people and societal sense, it makes good business sense, impacting on key outcomes such as absenteeism, presenteeism and productivity.

Savvy employees are increasingly looking to the ‘S’ – the Social – in ESG, in terms of sustainable and inclusive employee, customer and community practices and helping tackle health inequalities is crucial here. That’s why Legal & General has suggested that health inequality should be a key element of ESG, making it ‘ESHG’. It’s our duty as insurers, along with our intermediary partners, to help our customers get on top of this from the perspective of informing, designing and communicating tailored and purpose driven benefit and wellbeing programmes.”

From ESG to ESHG

Legal & General has recently announced a partnership with Sir Michael Marmot, Director of the University College of London (UCL) Institute of Health Equity and Professor of Epidemiology.

The collaboration will consider the role of business in addressing health inequality, suggesting also that health and health inequality should be a key element of ESG, or ‘ESHG’.

The partnership also aims to provide funding in this space through a multi-million-pound charitable, “Legal & General IHE Places Fund".

For further information

Notes to editors

Established in 1836, Legal & General is one of the UK’s leading financial services groups and a major global investor, with £1.2 trillion in total assets under management (as at FY23) of which c40% (circa £0.5 trillion) is international.

We have a highly synergistic business model, which continues to drive strong returns. We are a leading international player in Institutional Retirement, in Retail Savings and Protection, and in both public and private markets through our Asset Management division. Across the Group, we are committed to responsible investing and dedicated to serving the long-term savings and investment needs of customers and society.

As at 7 June 2024, we estimate the Group’s Solvency II coverage ratio to be 224%.

As at 11 June 2024, Legal & General has a market capitalisation of £14.6 billion.

Legal & General Insurance (LGI) has been offering life insurance cover since 1836 and is the UK’s number one individual life insurance provider. Our group protection business in the UK offers life insurance and income protection products to individuals through their employers and we offer term-life insurance in the US. We now have over 5.5 million UK life insurance customers, 1.8 million people in group protection schemes and approaching 1.3 million US term-life insurance policyholders. Here in LGI, we protect our customers and their loved ones throughout life and death.

*at 31 Jun 2021