In terms of productivity, the UK employment market is behind many of our European neighbours such as France and Germany. Whilst some of this is attributable to factors such as investment and innovation, there is another serious factor to UK growth – the British workforce is not healthy enough to make the necessary improvements in productivity which the UK desperately needs.
With the UK spending over £13bn on sickness and incapacity benefits for almost 2.5 million people of working age, it can be fairly argued that the UK is in a ‘wellness crisis’.
To combat this crisis, there is plenty of evidence that an ever-increasing number of employers are implementing measures to promote health and wellbeing to their workforce. In the past, these have often been larger organisations that have recognised that the workplace is an ideal place to promote healthier working practices and lifestyle choices. This is mainly from experience and research – these employers know that by improving an employee’s physical and psychological wellbeing they are likely to be rewarded with improved attendance, productivity and commitment.
Over the next few weeks, Healthy Performance will be publishing a series of blogs based on the raw data we have collected over the last few years. We anticipate that some of the results will be revealing and will help our clients to shape their strategies into the future.
In the meantime, our experience of HR/Health and Safety Teams, both big and small have led us to create this list of “Should do’s” for any company looking at shaping their health and wellbeing destiny …
– Measure and monitor your absence levels. This will allow you to track overall trends over time and highlight company hotspots across your organisation.
– Calculate and track the costs of sickness absence – the more detail you can get the better. For example, are there indirect costs to your business when someone goes off sick other than just their salary alone? A good start is to use our Sickness Calculator.
– In cases where you need to be reactive to employee health issues, ensure that you have access to responsive occupational health services which can help intervene early in complex cases of long-term absence.
– Adopt simple, effective and targeted workplace health promotion practises to improve employee awareness of health and lifestyle issues. These can range from nutrition, diet, exercise and so on. Educate your staff with relevant information and health workshops to ensure all of your staff get involved and are engaged.
– What you can measure, you can improve! We find that staff engagement for a health screening programme is over 70% and engages staff at all levels of seniority. A good health screening provider will be able to provide you with a company report which will allow you to further build a strategy around certain health hotspots.
– Recognise that sickness absence is lower amongst motivated, engaged and well-managed employees.
Finally, go above and beyond the expectation of your staff – they are your biggest asset!