I hope you managed to catch some of the sun this week, which was probably a final farewell from summer.

I don’t know if it is just me, but as you get older the weeks certainly seem to fly by even quicker. This year has been a rollercoaster ride for all of us, but it seems that this year is in a hurry to move on to 2021. We are halfway through September already, so only 14 weeks to Christmas.

You already know that I feel very strongly about health and wellbeing, especially with children because I have talked about this at length. My research now, especially with everything that has been going on this year, has led me to health and wellbeing in the workplace.

Did you know that even before Covid-19, the average employer lost 9.1 working days, per employee, per year due to sickness?

The Northern Echo:

There is plenty an employer can do to ensure that their staff health and wellbeing is being looked after

Meaning, if you are an employer with ten staff members, and they each take nine days off sick per year, that’s 90 days of low productivity. A worker who is in good health is reported to be three times more productive than their counterpart displaying ill health.

Six out of ten adults are now considered to be overweight or obese. A staff member who is obese is likely to take on average, an additional four days absence from work each year due to ill health.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) estimate that for UK organisations with more than 1,000 employees and no measurable workplace wellbeing program in place, work lost due to negative mental health costs an average of almost £1 million per year per organisation.

The Northern Echo:

Negative mental health can be contributed to by the workplace if a staff member finds themselves working repeatedly long hours, being inactive, or suffering from stress and anxiety. It is well documented that a healthy work force can reduce sickness absence, lower staff turnover and significantly boost productivity.

There is plenty an employer can do to ensure that their staff health and wellbeing is being looked after.

Think about your own workplace, do you have a health and wellbeing officer in place? What steps are they taking to look after you and promote a healthy lifestyle?

For example, prior to Covid-19 we consume one third of our daily calorie intake whilst at work. Therefore, it is the duty of the employer to promote healthier food and drink choices or they can host nutrition workshops.

If you are predominantly working at a desk, then your employer should conduct a desk assessment related to your posture.

Public Health England suggests that public sector workplaces should increase physical activity opportunities and reduce sedentary behaviour and access to energy dense food and drinks.

Physically active employees are less likely to take sick leave because of a reduced feeling of stress, reduced anxiety, happier mood, and a reduced risk of depression.

Benefits of a physically active workforce also include less risk of an accident in the workplace, greater productivity and a 25 per cent reduced risk of back pain.

The Northern Echo:

Poor posture can lead to a decrease in our wellbeing

It was recently reported that council staff in Darlington have taken a total of 24,238 sick days over the last two years – costing £2,366,989. Surely a workplace wellbeing programme would make a huge difference to those team members, for a fraction of the cost. I would be happy to speak to someone to help set this up.

Setting up a workplace wellbeing programme is a great opportunity to talk to the team and find out what they are interested in and what activities they would like to try.

It can also be a great way to bond and develop a team spirit by putting employees into working groups each covering a specific area.

We have reached a point where it is no longer good enough for organisations to simply recommend staff cycle to work and walk up the stairs rather than use the lift. It is time to get a comprehensive and beneficial workplace wellbeing program in place to ensure all employees are active, healthy and mentally well.

This week’s challenge

Does your workplace have some excellent policies and procedures in place to look after you? Share them with us. Alternatively, what policies would you like to see put in place by your employer? Let us know by sharing your comments on Facebook at: @TheNorthernEcho and @PremEdDurham

If you would like further information on a workplace wellbeing program, I would be happy to share some ideas, please contact me on tsmith@premier-education.com

  • Trevor Smith works for Premier Education supporting primary schools to improve children’s health and wellbeing through active learning. He is a senior member of the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA).