More than half of UK companies now have a wellness strategy, designed to keep employees fit, happy and productive. Does your organisation have one? If not, it could be time to look at the cost that ill health is having on your organisation.
Government research suggests that workplace illness is costing the UK £100bn a year in the UK. One in three working age people have a long-term health condition that affects their work, while a fifth have a mental health condition. Organisations are ever-focused on growth, production and return, yet investment in workplace inclusivity, health and wellbeing is critical in achieving these goals.
The culture of workplace wellness has its roots in the US, where tech giants like Google have been the trailblazers. Wellness training is part of leadership programmes, and organisations have built fitness and wellness centres so their people can not only stay fit and healthy, they can socialise with their colleagues too.
Organisations in the UK are increasingly looking to improve the health of their workforce. If done properly, this can have significant returns. While wellness often implies gyms, yoga classes and free fruit, workplace wellbeing should also focus on creating a supportive culture. The aim is for people to feel valued and look forward to going to work, where they are supported to work flexibly to achieve good work-life balance. Trust and recognition are also important aspects within a wellbeing-focused organisation.
One could argue that workplace wellbeing is more psychological than physical - although the two clearly inter-relate. Employers who genuinely care about staff wellbeing will encourage their people to spend less time working, however healthy the environment.
Evidence shows that consistently working long hours causes people to become ill and affects their family life. Britons work on average 42 hours a week - the highest in Europe – yet our overall output is a quarter less than countries such as France and Germany.
In fact, presenteeism (being in the office beyond your contracted hours) costs business twice as much as absenteeism. Organisations are looking at different ways to address the ‘always available’ culture and developing strategies to help people become more productive and supported to live a more balanced life. We know that a long hours culture, where people are sending emails late in the evening and at weekends is not going to get the best out of people.
So, wellbeing isn’t just about gyms and yoga classes, it’s getting a good balance for all and training managers to be more socially sensitive and create an anti-presenteeism culture. Humans aren’t machines and are a lot more productive when they are happy.
When looking at the wellness strategy of your own organisation, it’s worth thinking about it in the context of your entire culture and mission. If you would like to talk more about your wellness strategy, then do get in touch with me.
by Melissa Baxter