When I first started in full time employment working on a manufacturing site some 35 years ago, medical support was made available through an on-site nurse, most likely to have been employed simply because of the risks associated with the site we were working on. Jumping forward to the present we have moved on in leaps and bounds in supporting employees in both their mental and physical welfare, with much greater awareness around mental health and the need for greater work life balance.
According to a 2020 report by CIPD the average level of employee absence was 5.8 days per year. The top cause of short-term absence was related to mental health, followed by minor illnesses such as colds and headaches. Mental health was also reported as the biggest cause for long-term absence (four weeks or more), along with injuries such as back and neck pain, stress and acute medical conditions.
The CIPD research found that whilst the number of sick days recorded by employees has fallen year-on-year, ‘presenteeism’, where employees feel the need to work when unwell, and ‘leaveism’, where, for example, employees use their holiday allowance to work, were commonplace.
The results for 2020, arguably an unprecedented year in which public health took centre stage, maybe unsurprisingly showed that UK workers were dealing with increasing levels of everyday stress.
An important takeaway is that more organisations are applying a strategic approach to well-being through the use of standalone plans and programmes, supported by fit for purpose tools and platforms that complement their wider organisational strategy.
Businesses that take their employees’ health and wellbeing seriously are not only fulfilling their legal obligations, but will also benefit from attracting and retaining top talent, ensuring employees feel appreciated and valued with the feeling of being able to bring their whole selves to work.
In your business, you’ll probably have some form of procedure for managing sickness absence. But let’s flip that idea on its head for a moment. Instead of reacting to incidents of ill health, what if you could help prevent your employees developing health problems in the first place?
Whilst there is a move towards, and recognition for providing more rounded employee support, it remains in its infancy in the UK. Organisations that take a proactive approach to their employee’s health and wellbeing are more likely to have valued and supported employees who are far more likely to deliver the best outcomes.
As life progresses the demands to work smarter by being more efficient or quicker have to be matched by quality tooling and improved processes. This also means having the ability to work in an ever-changing environment. With change comes opportunity, but also uncertainty. Uncertainty can bring worries and worry can take our focus away from the job in hand impacting our efficiency and a spiral downwards.
This last year has seen a blurred line between work and home life as the ability to escape work and switch off has become more challenging, making it harder to rest. Some studies suggest that stress can exacerbate the human tendency to narrow the number of options we consider in unfamiliar situations. Under prolonged stress, we may also jump to conclusions in order to impose certainty on changing events, which may not be the most appropriate long-term decisions for us.
All of us are different, we have different strengths and weaknesses and there is no one size that fits all to being healthy - both physically and mentally.
If you’d like to have a conversation around the wide range of services that can be integrated into your business and customised to your health and wellbeing strategy to assist your employees physical and mental wellbeing health, please get in touch.