Why a healthy workplace matters
Why a healthy workplace matters
A new report from the UK suggests that many employers are aware of the hypothetical benefits to be gained from supporting the development of a healthier workforce but there is a significant gap when it comes to implementing the policies which can drive those improvements.
According to the CIPD report Growing the health and well-being agenda: From first steps to full potential this ‘implementation gap’ can have significant negative effects for employee health and wellbeing as well as long-term business sustainability. The report linked lack of implementation to the average cost of employee absence, which now stands at an astonishing £554 ($1135) per employee per year. It also showed that:
- Fewer than one in ten (8%) of organisations currently have a standalone wellbeing strategy that supports the wider organisational strategy.
- The majority (61%) of employers are more reactive than proactive in their approach to well-being.
- Almost two-fifths of employees (38%) are under excessive pressure at work at least once a week.
- 43% say that long hours working is the norm for their organisation (to a great or moderate extent).
- Wellbeing is taken into account in business decisions only to a little extent, or not at all, in the majority (57%) of cases.
- Less than two-fifths of organisations monitor the cost of employee absence.
CIPD President and wellbeing expert, Sir Professor Cary Cooper said that organisations need to take better care of their people and recognise how the demands of work can affect their physical and mental health, as well as their ability to perform well at work.
“In the fast-changing world of work, wellbeing has never been more important… Prevention is better than a cure; it’s high time that business leaders recognise this and create cultures in organisations in which wellbeing is centre stage and people are happy, healthy and committed to achieving organisational success,” said Professor Cooper.
CIPD policy adviser Rachel Suff has said discussions on employee wellbeing should be high on the business agenda and rather than focussing on ‘cost avoidance’ they should focus on ‘shared value creation’ to highlight what organisations stand to gain from being proactive on health and wellbeing initiatives.
To truly benefit from employee wellbeing programs, CIPD recommends that employers implement a holistic approach to health and wellbeing that is preventative and proactive and is responsive and supportive when issues arise. The approach should emphasise good physical health, good mental health and good work.
The CIPD claims line managers have a huge role in shaping an employee’s experience of work and that better training is required to ensure line managers are fully aware of their responsibilities when it comes to employee health and wellbeing and that they have the confidence and skills to handle sensitive conversations with staff appropriately.
The CIPD says that role modelling in the C-suite is also vital for employee wellness initiatives to be a success.
Looking locally, Georgie Drury, CEO and founder of My Springday, a corporate wellbeing platform, recently explained how wellbeing programs should work and what benefits organisations can expect as a result of taking the lead in this area in an article in HC Online.
According to Ms Drury, documented benefits include: reduced presenteeism, reduced employee-driven healthcare costs, improved office morale, productivity and, of course, profits. She also said wellbeing programs increase employee engagement and that research shows that employees with high wellbeing are more attached to their organisations, more productive and psychologically healthier.
One of the most important factors for organisations wanting to develop and implement a wellbeing program is to make it accessible and relevant to an organisation’s workforce. A recent Forbes magazine article by Holly Lebowitz Rossi described five hallmarks of a fantastic wellbeing program:
- Programs that are practical and accessible and offer a variety of resources aimed at improving employee health and wellbeing such as yoga classes, stress management seminars and financial health workshops.
- A health-conscious work environment: If any food is available it is a healthy option and work environments are designed to maximise physical and mental wellbeing. This may include ensuring employees take breaks and regular audits to ensure workstations are ergonomically sound.
- Wellness is integrated into the company’s structure: The leadership team needs to see it as a cohesive entity, seamless with workplace safety, benefits, human resources and other infrastructure elements.
- Wellness is linked to existing support programs: Linkages between a company’s wellness program and other company benefits like employee assistance programs (EAPs) are key to making it easier for employees to get support when they are in a difficult emotional or physical situation that affects both their health and their work.
- Health screenings and education are offered: Voluntary health screenings may help educate employees about their health and help them set personalised wellness goals.
Care Corporate has a number of programs available to support employers looking at ways to improve the health and wellbeing of employees. A key component of our package is the National Home Doctor Service Urgent Care Program which incorporates three solutions to frequent challenges faced by employees as they work to keep themselves, their children and their dependents healthy and happy:
Urgent Medical Care and Medication
Urgent Medical Care and Medication is a nationwide service offering an after hours doctor visit and access to full courses of medication to treat urgent illnesses and injuries experienced by employees, their children and senior relatives, when their GP is closed.
The unique service provides individuals, children and the elderly with medical care from an experienced doctor in the comfort of their own home or at an aged care facility.
People covered by the workforce Program will have access to the home doctor visit and full courses of urgent medications (eg antibiotics or Ventolin) on the spot. They can also receive a next day appointment with their regular GP, if follow up is required.
Urgent Child Care
Urgent Child Care offers access to a network of approved childcare providers who offer emergency child care when a child is too sick to attend their usual placement, or if the family’s usual arrangements fall through.
All carers are agency-vetted, police-checked and hold Working with Children Checks and employees can book an emergency carer up until 2pm on the same day.
The Urgent Child Care service offers working parents peace of mind in times of stress and is an effective way to support staff, reduce absenteeism and improve staff retention.
Urgent Senior Care
The Urgent Senior Care service supports employees who need to provide urgent care for a senior relative (parent, spouse…) at short notice. It helps employees navigate the often stressful process and understand options for care available in the location of their loved one, with information, advice and optional bookings.
National Seniors Australia reports that caring for seniors is more stressful and unpredictable than caring for children and that employees with caring responsibilities are more likely to leave their job as a result.
This service aims to reduce the likelihood of that happening by providing access to a comprehensive up-to-date directory of aged care services. Employees can contact the Urgent Senior Care service to either:
- Locate assistance services such as personal care, nursing, household duties help and companionship. This includes for short or respite periods.
- Locate senior care services, such as aged care residences or in-home carers for longer term periods.
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