Improving mental and physical health in the workplace is top of the agenda for most employers and HR departments, or so it should be. Employers have a duty of care to their staff; however lines are often blurred as to what is legally required by the organisation and morally what the company should do.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published guidelines as to how, we as a nation tackle Britain’s obesity crisis; and ways to reduce the amount of sick leave employees take due to stress, depression or anxiety.
Approximately 66% of people are obese or overweight compared to just over 50% in 1993 (NHS Digital); and in 2017 more than 131 million working days were lost to sickness, including 13 million working days lost to mental ill-health (Office for National Statistics).
Is this the sole responsibility of the employer?
NICE aim these guidelines at employers, and explain how they can encourage their workforce to become physically more active and mentally healthier. They include recommendations, such as:
- Ensuring staircases are clearly signposted and attractive to use;
- Introducing stand-up meetings;
- Advertising local gym classes, such as spinning;
- Subsidising gym membership;
- Distributing leaflets to encourage employees to take regular breaks from sedentary work;
- Installing bike storage, showers and changing facilities;
- Allowing employees access to a bike pool.
At Swinburne Maddison LLP, each of our employees enrolled on a popular workplace healthcare plan allowing them to receive discounts on gym memberships, the ability to redeem costs for physiotherapy and counselling services. Additional to this we have the Cycle to Work scheme and other great staff benefits.
Responsibility of health and wellbeing is not limited to management. Encourage your employees to become actively involved by allowing them to organise sport or fitness groups, healthy eating campaigns or awareness of illnesses which mean the most to them.
The hope is that by following the guidelines set out by NICE, employees will become more active and consequently more productive and engaged, and less likely to have time off sick. This will not only benefit employers and their businesses, but our beloved NHS.
If you have a query relating to this article, or require further advice on other aspects of employment or HR law, please contact Jonathan Moreland, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Sharney Randhawa, email@example.com, or call us on 0191 3842441.