Why your health and well-being is becoming the top priority for Employers
Employers seem to be really taking note of the H & W (health and wellbeing) of their workforce. Not from a big brother standpoint, or wanting to interfere – but to protect their number one business asset – that’s you!
You may feel slightly at odds with this, but think about it, even though you are free to do what you want outside work, your employer values you enough to make sure you are provided with the right information and opportunities to keep yourself in tip top condition. Nothing wrong with that right?
Exercise, a good lifestyle and eating healthy will all contribute to make you a happier, more engaged and productive employee. Well that’s the theory, and of course life gets in the way with the ups and down it brings to us all, but all in all that’s not a bad theory for the employer to base a H & W strategy on.
Once the fluffy side of a business’s activities, H & W was once the staple diet of public relations officers, or hidden away in the corporate social responsibility agenda on top of the CEO’s filing cabinet.
A ‘nice to do’ activity, health and well-being is quite simply turning around into a ‘must do’. Not just for H & W benefits, but indirect benefits such as employee engagement, job fulfilment and knowing that potential employees not only look at the grade and job positions to attract them to the post, but the ‘add on’ benefits – ‘employer of choice’ , ‘health and well-being charter’, ‘investors in people’ etc.
My workplace is going through quite a change at the moment. Benefiting from my experience and with the backing of a supportive board of Directors a whole raft of health initiatives are being pushed through to enable employees to move more, eat better and feel more positive. This also fits into the City wide health vision for Sheffield.
But why should your employer be bothered about H & W? For example your employer gifting you half an hour to attend a nutritionist course is, after all, costing the company. Quite a strange tactic you may think, as you wonder what the catch is.
May be there isn’t a catch though and may be the employer is thinking long term here, knowing full well investing in such health initiatives will probably bode well for a healthier, more resilient and ultimately effective workforce.
Now if your employer is levelling this much importance on your health – can you afford not to be involved? Assuming most of us spend a large majority of our time at work it seems the only viable solution to tackling the health of a nation.
The very reason the NHS is rolling out a huge health promotion programme across its workforce to stem and reduce absence rates. It also provides a showcase to other industries of why such importance should be given to employee health and well-being.
As well as the business benefiting, the employee gets health opportunities presented to them they otherwise wouldn’t have thought of, or gone along to outside of work. It’s all packaged up in that nice and convenient ‘incorporating exercise within your working day’ lark.
Of course, some may feel participating with colleagues in exercise, nutrition sessions or mental health initiatives a little odd at work. But when we all throw every excuse and barrier at taking steps to improve our physical or mental health – the workplace could be the most time effective way to address such issues.
Of course this is not true in all cases, for example where the trigger of bad health may well be the workplace. However H & W is all about long term prevention so in many ways it should reduce the chances of cases where work is solely to blame for a deterioration in an employee’s health in the first place.
Understand why habits often win the battle of unhealthy vs healthy choices and how to use good habits to override the bad habits. Habits are formed on routine. Work is routine, so embedding more exercise, healthier food choices and becoming involved in H & W activities at work could be the best thing you could do to form good habits. Read my other blogs about how habit drives our unhealthy choices – http://www.andrewjamespicken.com
Not all of us may be lucky enough to have an employer who is buying in or embracing the H & W movement. Maybe you work for a SME, or a business that doesn’t have such a culture. But don’t let this stop you, champion H & W yourself and practice what you preach, walk more, use the stairs, eat better. Once someone takes the lead you will be surprised how it catches on.
Educate yourself on the simple health messages using the Change for life or the NHS Choices website. Relay these to your colleagues, or set up a little working group to coordinate healthy activities in your workplace. This could be stop smoking for example where free 1-2-1 support can be given. Find out – click here to find your local STOP SMOKING service.
Lastly, like it or not work plays a huge part in our lives. It gives us structure, it opens our social networks, can provide variety away from our personal lives, but most of all it can be a place where opportunities to engage in H & W activities could prove its worth in ‘weight’ not just to the employer but to the long term health of yourself.