It’s a fascinating thought that employers and the workplace can have an impact on an individual’s health and wellbeing. It’s not where I would naturally start; personally, I usually come from a perspective that we take responsibility for our own health and wellbeing. “It’s down to me surely in relation to the choices that I make!”, “It’s a bit of a ‘nanny state’ when it comes to my manager casting judgement about my health and wellbeing – what I do in my personal time is my business”.
These might be views that you/employers/others express or believe. However, there is a compelling case for why it’s in all our interests for all of us to take an interest in workplace health and wellbeing. Here are just a few national statistics:
- Sick people cost their employer £620,000 per year in businesses employing more than 500 people.8
- Similarly, a Department of Work and Pensions report9 stated that more than 130 million days (Office of National Statistics) are still being lost to sickness absence every year in Great Britain and working-age ill health costs the national economy £100 billion a year.
- The same report estimates that employers face a yearly bill of around £9 billion for sick pay and associated costs, with individuals missing out on £4 billion a year in lost earnings. Meanwhile, around 300,000 people a year fall out of work and into the welfare system because of health-related issues.
- PricewaterhouseCoopers10 estimate the cost to be even higher, at an average of 9.1 days of absence per UK worker, costing UK business nearly £29bn a year.
- The Centre for Mental Health11 estimated in 2007 that the total cost to employers of mental distress and ill health in the workforce is estimated at nearly £26 billion each year. That is equivalent to £1,035 for every employee in the UK workforce.
“That’s great, but what does this mean for me?” I hear you ask. “What makes you an expert?” All legitimate and I guess my interest was piqued because of a project that I was involved in over the past year in Manchester. If you want to find out more click here.
How can I become a Ninja?
When I was thinking about writing this blog, I reminded myself that we all need to have knowledge, skills and expertise to support each other in our health and wellbeing endeavour. When I think someone has mastered a particular mind set or skill, for some reason a have an image of a Ninja in my head and was delighted to see that the informal definition of Ninja is “a person who excels in a particular skill or activity.
So, with the help of my co Ninja we have come up with some very practical ways that you can apply Health and Wellbeing Activities in the work place.
|Tip||Me (Ninja)||My team||My manager/organisation|
|1||Find your healthily work life blend and take breaks||Encourage the team to discuss their work life blend, have lunch together, scrutinise all the meetings the team attends||Role model good management practice – take breaks, avoid sending e-mails ‘out of hours’ or let people know that you don’t expect a response ‘out of hours’|
|2||Avoid presenteeism (coming to work when unwell)||Discuss what presenteeism means as a team||Make it clear that you expect people to stay at home when they are unwell (that it’s not a badge of honour to come to work when you are unwell)
Review sickness absence policies to support people to return to work
|3||Develop health and wellbeing objectives for yourself||Support colleagues with positive HWB behaviours by developing team health and wellbeing objectives||Build in time to discuss health and wellbeing – simply ask how people are and celebrate positive health and wellbeing behaviours|
|4||Be active, use the stairs, move around from your desk, use apps to encourage you to get up and walk||Have team meetings standing up or while walking, pedometer challenges||Develop options to support people to be active at work such as walking groups, running groups, football teams, cycle schemes|
|5||Keep yourself healthy and ask for help when you need it||Encourage the team to ask each other for help when they need it and how to support each other when specialist help may be needed||Ensure that people have access to excellent occupational health, rapid access to counselling, physio, GP onsite, MOT’s|
– Su Fowler-Johnson