The workplace: an arena for promoting public health
Employee Wellbeing Workplace health and wellbeing initiatives can bring benefits to employees, employers and the whole community.
The workplace, traditionally seen as a source of health problems, in fact represents a huge opportunity to improve the health and wellbeing of the nation.
Health and wellbeing provision at work starts with high-quality leadership and good-quality management. Research shows that good line-manager behaviour is linked with good health and wellbeing and improved staff performance, whilst poor-quality leadership is linked with stress, depression and burnout. Culture comes from the top and a healthy workplace culture is supportive and empowering.
Once this culture is in place measures such as healthy food in workplace restaurants, employee assistance schemes, cycling facilities, mindfulness training and yoga classes can improve wellness further.
Some employers still see workplace health and wellbeing measures as a fluffy extravagance. However, they can boost the bottom line by reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity, employee engagement and morale. In today's labour market wellbeing schemes can also help attract valuable talent. These are just some of the reasons that many companies have embraced workplace wellbeing programmes and earned recognition as some of Britain's healthiest companies.
For employees, a health and wellbeing culture can deliver better physical and mental health and reduce the impact of poor health on themselves, their families and the whole community.
To ensure optimum take-up, however, leaders must set an example by engaging fully with the health and wellbeing culture themselves and empowering employees by ensuring that all are involved in planning and decision making about any proposed changes or benefits. Workplace health and wellbeing champions, often selected by the employees themselves, can increase wider engagement.
Small firms can get involved with minimal expense using advice and tools available from organisations such as the NHS, local authorities and health charities.
Governments of all political complexions recognise the value of employee health and wellbeing programmes. The Access to Work scheme is to be expanded and the new Work and Health Unit has been created to improve health and employment outcomes for UK working-age people who have or acquire health conditions or disabilities, and it aims to halve the disability 'employment gap'.
A proactive stance on workplace health and wellbeing will improve health for employees and their families, productivity for organisations, and public health nationwide.