Why workplaces should take health and well-being seriously

October 18, 2019

“We are embedding health and well-being at the heart of our business strategy because our people are our greatest asset, and we recognize that a healthy, happy and committed workforce is vital to our business success.” - Alex Gourlay, MD, Boots UK

 

People are often surprised to learn that I moved from working as a finance lawyer to a career in health and well-being. “Oh that sounds nice” I have had individuals politely comment as they then ask me “why would you give up such a lucrative job to do this “well-being” stuff”?  I have also noticed that in workplaces, many managers and directors wonder why health and well-being is something that we are talking about at work.  “Surely this is something our employees should be doing in their own time?” they ask me - or perhaps they see the need to tick off a well-being box - without really realising why it is so important to help employees with their health and well-being at work. 

 

Here are some reasons why workplaces should take health and well-being seriously: 

 

To Be More Profitable
The Farmer Stephenson Report comments that "Employers are losing billions of pounds because employees are less productive, less effective, or off sick”.  We know that companies lose lots of money every year due to both mental and physical poor health.  In fact around one in three of these working days lost in the UK is due to poor mental health and this is despite the fact that most mental illness is preventable.  There are tools that organisations can be equipping their employees with which could dramatically reduce the number of working days lost and therefore could have a significant impact on the bottomline.  

 

Deloitte has produced a model which estimates that a workplace wellbeing programme would cost approximately £80 per employee and in a company of 500 employees (£40,000) and would result in net annual savings of £347,722.  So any employer that is serious about making money needs to get serious about health and well-being.  You cannot assume that employees will do things to optimise their mental and physical health in their free time (as many won’t) - which is why giving them these tools and resources at work can be so beneficial. 

 

To Keep Up With Competitors and To Ensure Employee Retention

Those employers that do not put well-being firmly on the agenda will lose employees to organisations that do.  Individuals are actively looking for workplaces that look out for their health and well-being.  The feedback I have had from employees to which I have delivered resilience training is often that they “are grateful to work for a company that provides these workshops and tools”.  More and more organisations are prioritising the health of their employees because they are realising that it is the best way to ensure employee satisfaction and guarantee long-term profitability.  Many companies invest significant amounts of money just on recruitment and creating a workplace in which employees can be retained can really result in significant cost savings. 

 

To Prevent Illness Amongst the Workforce 
The Health and Safety Executive’s 2016/17 labour force survey indicates that 12.5 million working days are lost due to poor mental health caused by work-related stressors.  As companies work to make their organisations “safer” from a health and well-being stand-point, they notice that not only are there less absences but also employees are more engaged and productive at work. 

 

To Promote Innovation, Productivity and for Quality Assurance 

Many employers do not realise that when employees are stressed or tired - their brains operate in a similar way to when they are drunk.  The most evolved part of the brain, the pre-frontal cortex, shuts down and does not work as effectively when an individual is stressed or tired.  So employers may have worked hard to hire exceptional talent - but if they are not ensuring those employees know how to manage their mental and physical health - they could have a workforce that is not operating at its full potential.  It is relatively simple and easy to equip individuals with tools to better manage stress and tiredness and therefore to optimise productivity. 

 

So why did I move from working in law to a career in this “well-being stuff”? - because I passionately believe that we can transform individuals' lives and also workplaces by shifting the focus to employee health and well-being. Companies NEED to start taking health and well-being seriously - because only those organisations that do so are going to thrive.  Not only can this new focus on well-being create happier workforces, it can also significantly improve an organisation’s long-term profitability.  With very little investment it is easy to equip employees with a broad range of tools that they can use to prevent illness and also to optimise their mental and physical health.

 

If you are interested in finding out more about the resilience training that I run in organisations, to boost individuals mental and physical health and to equip individuals with tools to manage their health over the long-term - please get in touch at info@thefoodpsychologyclinic.co.uk 

 

“Good health IS good business.” Paul Drechsler, Chairman/CEO, Wates Group Limited

 

 

 

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