Health and wellbeing needs to be the business of business

Any workplace can play an important role in improving health and wellbeing - often to the benefit of the whole organisation.
People walking and chatting.

Studies have shown there is a clear correlation between physical, mental and social health of employees and the financial health of a business. 

If we feel well this leads to increased productivity and ultimately improved performance. Happier, healthier employees work harder and get better results.

So it’s clear that business has an interest in improving the health and wellbeing of staff.

For good physical and mental health, adults should aim to be physically active every day. Any activity is better than none, and more is better still. In fact the minimum amount of time an adult should engage in activity to benefit their health is 10 minutes. Just ten minutes! This begs the question, what could your workplace do to encourage and support employees to be more active?

If more is better the Chief Medical Officer recommends that adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of moderate intensity activity (such as brisk walking or cycling); or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity (such as running); or even shorter durations of very vigorous intensity activity (such as sprinting or stair climbing); or a combination of moderate, vigorous and very vigorous intensity activity, each week.

“A lack of physical activity and poor eating habits leads to an unhealthy workforce. Around a third of adults in England are damaging their health through a lack of physical activity. In fact, one in four women and one in five men in England are defined as inactive, doing less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.

This is costing the UK taxpayer over £60 billion per year.

Employers have a responsibility to provide safe workplaces that do not damage an employee’s health and environments that support healthier lifestyle choices”.

Business in the Community

So why can’t employees be active on their own time? Time, is the key word here. People just don’t have it, once work has finished people have many other commitments, such as caring responsibilities.

“Employers have a legal responsibility to support the health and well-being of their staff as part of their health and safety duties.

Healthy employees drive a healthy business. Good physical health is closely linked to good mental health. Initiatives designed to encourage physical activity and healthy eating should focus on mental health as well as physical health”. 

Business in the Community

“Energize” your workplace workshops

There help available to employers to help create a happier, healthier workplace. Energize Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin run workshops for businesses who feel they need confidence and inspiration to make changes in the workplace.

These workshops will equip businesses with knowledge around why health and wellbeing is important, how to create an active workplace, the key challenges for businesses face, and the barriers employees face when trying to improve health and wellbeing at work.

Business in the Community toolkit

It is essential that employees are involved and engaged in looking after their own wellbeing.  Establishing the right culture, demonstrating commitment and showing that a business cares will help achieve this.

To help do this, Business in the Community in collaboration with Public Health England have provided a toolkit. Working in partnership with employees, employers can use the toolkit to take a positive, proactive, preventative approach to support weight management and encourage greater physical activity. 

Physical Activity, Healthy Eating and Healthier Weight: A Toolkit For Employers lists free resources that will help organisations, whatever their size, achieve a healthier working environment. The toolkit provides practical evidence-based guidance that can help organisations support staff to improve their health and in turn the health of the business through reduced sickness absence and increased productivity.

Health and Wellbeing needs to be everybody’s business

Even if businesses invests in the health and wellbeing of their staff, it’s difficult for businesses alone to achieve the levels of physical activity needed for adults. Health and wellbeing needs to everybody’s business. Individuals, communities, the NHS, local government and central government all need to have responsibility for improving health and wellbeing.

If we all work together, we can all benefit. Any business that supports and encourages employees to be more active will see the benefits. Feel Well, Work Well, Live Well!

Rachael Threadgold

By Rachel Threadgold

Senior Health Improvement Practitioner at Telford & Wrekin Council

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