Employers: improve the health and wellbeing of your workforce
Ensuring the health and wellbeing of the workforce is the new ‘corporate responsibility’, according to leading private health charity Nuffield Health.
This was the message put forward by chief executive David Mobbs at the launch of research project ‘Wellbeing in the Workplace 2012’, conducted in partnership with Ashbridge Business School.
Mobbs urged organisations to take the health and wellbeing of their employees into their own hands to address Britain’s growing health crisis.
At the current rate, around 90% of men and 80% of women are expected to be overweight or obese by 2050. With obesity comes related health problems, including diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke and chronic pain – all of which are thought to be on the rise.
Sick leave from physical illness costs the UK economy around £100 billion a year, and absenteeism from mental ill health costs around £8.4 billion. However, presenteeism – the act of staying at work despite illness due to job insecurity – costs almost double that, at £15 billion.
“I think it’s important for a number of reasons, not just about improving productivity and engagement of your people, but also about the UK business sector standing up to help address some of the major challenges in terms of health, including the aging population and taking off pressure from public purse and NHS,” Mobbs said.
The economic burden of both physical and mental ill health is huge and unsustainable in the long run. Something needs to be done to improve the health of the nation immediately, and Nuffield Health believes the most important changes need to be made in the workplace.
Possible steps for employers to take include:
- Provide information on how to sit correctly at a desk, or lift heavy objects.
- Encourage regular movement – e.g. exercise equipment or space for employees to wonder around.
- Teach exercises and stretches that can be done at the desk.
- Organise team sports, sponsored walks and other active social activities to promote physical health, mental wellness and team morale.
- Make sure HR support is in place.
To keep your body and mind healthy throughout your life – regardless of whether you have symptoms of ill health or not – why not try having regular therapy sessions, whether massage, aromatherapy, yoga, or any of the other many therapy types available?
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