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How well is your workforce?

5th March 2017

Right now 1 in 6 workers in the UK is dealing with anxiety, depression or stress.Mental health problems alone among workers cost the UK economy over £26 billion every year. This does not include physical health problems which adds considerably to the cost and sickness days away from work.

We spend the majority of our time working so it is vital that the place in which we work is a happy and supportive one and where we feel valued. Whether you are a part of a team, Line Manager or Senior Partner the support that you offer your staff is key to performance. The culture of the workplace in recent years has begun to change as companies are recognising that mental and physical health does impact on their bottom line. If you look after staff wellbeing then staff morale and loyalty, innovation, productivity and profits will rise.

Research studies show that companies that are rated “the top 10 Best places to work” are more profitable than those that are not. This is down to the supportive environment within their organisations and how the company make their employees feel valued and supported by providing resources such as Resilience Training, Wellbeing workshops and teaching them effective communication skills.

Findings from 56 studies on work site wellness programs that were published in the American Journal of Health Promotion showed an average 27 percent reduction in sick leave absenteeism, 26 percent reduction in health care costs, and 32 percent reduction in workers’ compensation and disability management cost claims.

So where does a company start with wellness?

You need to start at the top and work down. A supportive corporate culture includes not only a commitment to the wellness program from senior management, but also extends to the mid-level and front line managers best positioned to affect program success due to their day-to-day contact with employees. It is, thus, important to align their management and performance goals with the health and wellbeing of the people who report to them.

It is also important for Managers to recognise the environmental context which includes influences external to the workplace, such as the home setting, friends and social networks, and the policies and resources of the local and national community. Although workers spend a significant amount of their time in the employment setting, these other factors can also affect their need for and success in a wellness program.

So how does a company motivate their staff to change?

Once again when influencing and promoting change in a work place it needs to start from the top down so firstly, Senior Executives could implement initiatives or form a working party within their organisation to investigate what their employees would like to see or what challenges they face.

Whilst keeping within HR regulations, a Health related questionnaire could be developed for all employees to complete which would give the company insight into their variety of needs and therefore support to be offered. Here are some other examples for introducing wellness into an organisation:

  • By delegating and giving more autonomy to staff, chosen staff members could set up a health and wellness in the workplace committee and have them take responsibility for implementing the selected ideas for health promotion activities
  • Designate a wellness coordinator for implementing action plans
    Allocate a budget for health and wellness in the workplace activities
  • Develop good employment practice and policies, eg, communication systems; training and personal development; supervision, appraisal and mentoring; attendance / absence management; equal opportunities; return to work/rehabilitation for people with illnesses or disabilities; time off for career responsibilities (children, other dependents); job sharing; flexi-time and flexible hours / days; dealing with harassment and bullying; grievance procedure; disciplinary procedure
  • Include health and wellness in the workplace activities in manager’s objectives

It is a good idea but these things cost money.There are many ways in which companies have incorporated Wellness into their organisations which come with relatively little cost. Here are a few ideas:

  • Cross-department teams could earn points over a 12-week period by doing healthy things like drinking a certain amount of water or going for a walk on their lunch breaks
  • Subsidising healthy options in vending machines with junk food options. For instance, charge more for a cupcake and less for an apple.
  • Set up a walking club before or after work.
  • Conduct meetings whilst walking.
  • Start a pedometer challenge with a goal of 10,000 steps a day.
  • Provide a safe place to store bikes in the office.
  • Encourage employees to take the stairs.
  • Buy healthy food for meetings instead of junk food.
  • Health and wellness seminars / discussions – with guest speakers
  • Awareness raising, workshops, training sessions on health topics
  • Offer lactation rooms for working mothers

Once you have management fully on board, it’s time to market the program to employees. Posters, emails and newsletters can spread the word. Even inject a little fun into the project and utilise photos of executives displaying bad posture or holding up an apple to advertise wellness events. Prize incentives can also be offered when running a challenge.

At the Life Practice we offer Wellness at Work programs to help companies promote health and wellbeing within their organisation. We offer a range a programs to suit all budgets. Call us today for more information Tel:  01462 431 112.