The workforce impact of the cost of living crisis and how Occupational Health can help

The cost-of-living crisis has been detrimental to the UK for quite some time now, affecting more than just our finances. It has had a negative impact on our food, our physical health, and our mental health.

With such a huge increase in the cost of necessities such as gas, electricity, food etc, it has meant that many families across the UK are struggling. Many can’t afford nutritious meals, or meals at all, which is a major crisis. Statistics show that in 2024 so far, 15% of UK households went hungry and nearly 60% of food-insecure households cut back on buying fruit and 44% bought less vegetables.

Due to this, the NHS have recorded seeing an increase in hospital admissions for poor nutrition and deficiencies. The NHS Trust’s data found that 96% say that health has worsened in local areas as a result of poverty and the cost-of-living crisis. This in-turn takes a huge toll on people around the UK mentally, as their stress and anxiety levels go up over not having food or being able to afford bills. It can cause low moods, lower self-esteem, guilt, and sleep problems, which all contribute to poor and further declining mental health.

What impact does this have on the workplace?

Poor mental and physical health affects how people function in the workplace if they attend work at all. Many employees’ struggling won’t be able to focus, their productivity will be lower, relationships with colleagues may deteriorate, there will be less staff engagement or morale, and absences or long-term sickness may be increased. These things will negatively impact a business’ overall productivity and finances. If there’s a lower productivity rate and more absences, it costs an organisation a lot of money; in 2020 it cost the UK economy £21 billion and if nothing changes, its predicted to cost the UK £26 billion.

How can Occupational Health help?

Employees having access to occupational health can massively increase attendance, costing the business less, by allowing those with poor mental or physical health to reach out to nurses and practitioners so that they can have help and reasonable adjustments in the workplaces. This will then make staff feel better, be more focussed and present at work. It can also help those off-sick return to work more quickly as support will be in place. Occupational Health is also supports  preventative measures such as having wellbeing strategies, healthy living education, monitoring staff’s health and overall wellness.