What makes a healthy workplace? » SMEInsider

What makes a healthy workplace?

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In this guest post, health insurer Bupa suggests five ways you can ensure your workforce stays fit and well.

Creating an environment that emphasises employees’ safety and wellbeing should be the cornerstone of all businesses. But how do you go about developing a workplace that is healthy in every sense?

There is a recognised link between employees’ health and their efficiency. Recent research by Bupa found that more than 85 per cent of employees believe they would be more productive at work if they were able to maintain positive lifestyle changes. However, although half of British employees are trying to make long-term changes to their lifestyle, less than one in 10 manage to do so, with many blaming a lack of willpower and busy lives for holding them back.

Employers should take note, as creating a healthy workplace requires establishing an environment where people feel respected and valued for the work they do, and supported when they make healthy changes. Furthermore, the workplace should be a safe place where employees are protected from injury and the effects of stress and musculoskeletal disorders are minimised and treated.

Health and safety 

As an employer, you must understand and action your responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Involve employees in developing initiatives and encourage them to raise concerns they may have regarding employee health and safety. Workplaces where employees are involved in making decisions like this are safer and healthier.

Communication 

Foster an environment where employees are encouraged to speak out about concerns. Promote dialogue about workplace health, including mental health problems such as stress. This communication should be continued while employees are on sick leave and again when they return to work so you can help build a supportive plan. Educate employees on the signs of mental health issues and encourage supportive action.

Lifestyle 

Canvas employee opinion and support for healthy living schemes – perhaps they would like access to free fruit? Or healthy snacks in the vending machine? Encourage people to use the stairs instead of the lifts and introduce incentives such as Bike 2 Work, discounts on gym membership or employee healthcare. Consider organising team-building events that involve physical activity such as a sports day or a company-wide sponsored 10k run.

Work/life balance 

Promote an anti-workaholic culture to discourage employees from working too late. A work culture that allows employees time off for their own lives will ultimately benefit the business, as they will work more efficiently and enthusiastically when they in the workplace. The top 20 UK companies for work/life balance all have flexible working hours and working from home as an option.

Monitoring employee health

Employees could also benefit from a routine health assessment. Bupa has recently launched a range of new health assessments which help employees to set goals and – through regular follow-ups with health professionals – feel supported and able to make changes for the better.

Creating a healthy, secure and safe workplace means leading a cultural shift towards an open, understanding environment where employees’ safety and their physical and mental health are a priority. Encourage communication between employees and highlight the importance of a work/life balance for the benefit of both staff and the business.

Speak to our small business team to find out more.

  • Richard J Francis

    Really disappointing article. We were reading this stuff 20 years ago, and a smattering 10 years before that. The major reason workplaces are unhealthy are bad management & worker attitudes/practices and poorly planned open-plan space that is noisy, drab and totally devoid of all character.