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Healthy working makes sense

Business leaders instinctively know that their employees make a vital contribution to business success. How often do we hear bosses say that their biggest asset is their people, or that they are “a people business”? Recent research by Bupa found that more than half of the companies it questioned (57%) believe the health of their employees is either extremely important or the single most important factor affecting their business’s productivity and it becoming “sustainably successful”.

Furthermore, 32% of SME leaders have confirmed they have lost money because of sickness absence, and nearly half said that if a staff member took a significant period of absence now it would affect business growth.

The impact of an employee’s health on a business is clear, but do we do enough to create and maintain healthy working cultures? Do we do enough to support healthy staff and help foster and encourage greater staff welfare?

IIRSM recognises that while the UK has done a lot to improve safety, we have failed to pay enough attention to health. Businesses are failing to sufficiently support their employees’ health and wellbeing – Bupa’s research revealed 25% of SME leaders believe their business has become less concerned with health and wellbeing as it has grown. More than half (53%) do not provide employees with any health and wellbeing benefits, while 43% said they will never consider providing such benefits.

According to a Labour Force Survey, stress-related depression and anxiety alone accounted for 9.9 million lost working days in 2014/15 and much of that stress derived from job pressures.

Above all else, when you consider that 1.2 million working people are suffering from a work-related illness, it is clear we have a long way to go and a lot of work still to do.

Balancing the health and wellbeing needs of employees with the goals of business will not always be easy, but with the buy-in of staff, sound management practices and a culture that supports health and wellbeing as a part of the business plan, it is possible to give an organisation the best chance of being “sustainably successful”.

IIRSM believes that supporting the health and wellbeing of employees is as critical as the great work our members do in the safety arena. It is clear that in the world of safety we have made huge strides and saved many lives. Now is the time to do the same in the health arena.

We believe the time is right to support our members, and the HSE’s 2016 strategy, in leading a charge on health and wellbeing and in the coming months we will provide more ideas and information on what can be done to change this for the better.

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