September 2017 : Workplace Health

Workplace Health

Many of us know the feeling – Monday morning rolls in and we lay in bed wishing we could start the weekend all over again. Yep, it’s the beginning of another working week. While we can’t stop this from happening and wrap ourselves in a duvet for the rest of time, we can all get more out of our work and use the workplace as a foundation for good health and wellbeing. After all, adults spend approximately 1/3 of their waking hours at work.

Health and wellbeing in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility. It is down to both the employer and the employee to encourage initiatives and processes that ensure the workforce is healthy and happy. A good work environment is vital for this. Data from Public Health England shows that:

  • 1 in 3 people of working age in the UK have a long term condition, with over half of these people saying that their health is a barrier to the type or amount of work that they can do.
     
  • 1 in 6 people of working age in the UK have a diagnosable mental health problem.
     
  • 19% of long term sickness absence in England is attributed to mental ill health.
     
  • Each year 15 million days are lost to stress, depression or anxiety.
     
  • In 2014/15 over half a million people experienced a new case of ill health that they believe was made worse by their work (HSE, 2015).

Workplaces that offer activities and interventions to employees are much more likely to have a workforce that are healthier, active, and productive and have a lower amount of absence due to sickness. A great outcome for both sides of the coin!

What’s equally important is the need to ensure that everyone has access to employment opportunities in the first place. After all, everyone has the right to work. Those who are unemployed are almost twice as likely to report having a limited long-term health condition that those in work (Public Health England). Employment is linked to a reduced risk of ill health including cardiovascular disease, poor mental health and behaviours that can damage our health (such as excessive alcohol consumption). As a society, we must work towards a mutual goal of ensuring that future generations have the skills and knowledge needed to access good quality work. This work needs to be meaningful to them and should develop them as a person, not just to enable a tick on the ‘employment list’. It is vital for providing them with the self-confidence, independence and satisfaction with life that they need for good health and wellbeing (Work Foundation).

There is also a need to change the culture around access to work by people with a long term sickness or disability, in which the focus is usually on what they can’t do as opposed to what they can bring to the workplace. Instead of putting hurdles in the way, we must encourage organisations and businesses to provide a supportive and flexible work environment that overcomes them.

If you need any advice or help to set up a health related initiative in the workplace, we can help. Just get in touch if you’d like to know more. Email us at public.health@bracknell-forest.gov.uk or call 01344 355219.

For more information on all things health and wellbeing related, why not visit our Health Portal?