Health & Wellbeing in the Workplace

Having work that is fulfilling and meaningful is known to have a positive impact on our health and wellbeing. 

The role employers can play in influencing their employee’s health and wellbeing can’t be underestimated, employers have a duty of care to ensure their employee’s health, both physical and mental, is not negatively impacted by the work they do.

The financial impact of poor health and wellbeing at work is significant, according to the Centre of Mental Health in 2017/18 the cost to the UK economy of poor mental health was £35 billion, this equates to approximately £1,300 per employee.  The HSE reports that 1.4 million workers were suffering from work-related ill health (new or long-standing) in 2017/18.  Whether you employ 10 people or 1,000 people there will be a cost to your business if you ignore the health and wellbeing of your employee’s.  Those costs are likely to include increased sickness absence, loss in performance and productivity, higher staff turnover, the associated costs of recruitment and the loss of talent from a business. 

A strategy that is integral to your business is key, one which recognises and understands both the physical and mental health risks and issues that employee’s may face.  This is where an Occupational Health service can be of great value, by helping to identify those health risks and issues, advising and guiding the business in implementing a programme that will minimise risks and contribute positively in building and maintaining a healthy workforce.

It can be useful to prioritise what your business needs and wants from a workplace health and wellbeing perspective, this may include reducing sickness absence levels and associated costs.  You may have noticed that there are more people struggling with mental health issues but you are unsure how to support this.  A good starting point is to improve awareness around a particular health topic, such as mental health, beginning with Managers and Supervisors who often are the best people who will know their staff and notice changes that could be associated with a mental health issue.  Following on from raising awareness more and more businesses are recognising the benefit of having people trained as Mental Health First Aiders, who learn how to approach, respond, assess, and give support to someone who may be struggling with their mental health.  Mental Health First Aiders can also play a key part in raising awareness of mental health within your workplace, helping to break down stigma’s that are often associated with mental health and can be a barrier for someone who may want and need help but feels unable to ask for help.

The overall benefits of managing and improving workplace health and wellbeing will also include better staff engagement and retention by contributing to your corporate reputation, with more people looking beyond their salary and job role when it comes to determining whether you are a good employer.  Whatever you do, it can start small and should always evolve just as your business evolves and grows.

Previous articleImproving your leadership through humour
Next articleEmployment law reform – what to expect in 2019 and beyond