It makes sense for employers to take a proactive approach to staff wellbeing

Pam whelan

The pressures of modern day life are bearing down on us all.

At work, it feels like more is being expected of us on a daily basis for less. And at home we are being stretched in all directions to meet everyone else’s – and our own – demands.

We’re only human, after all, and these soaring pressures are preventing our employees from having the time to look after their health.

In fact, the latest YouGov Everyday Health Tracker, in partnership with Simplyhealth, has found that almost 1 in 3 people working full time feel the demands of work are a key reason for not being able to follow NHS health guidelines* on the amount of exercise they do and eating a healthy, balanced diet.

These strains are making people ill. And even for us caring employers, illness just isn’t good for business.

Present but unable to perform

With the demands of the 24/7, ‘always on’ culture we all live in; it’s no surprise that our workforces are becoming more distracted, more stressed and less productive.

Having employees in work who are under the weather – whether that’s through being physically sick or feeling the mental strain of escalating life pressures – is causing more harm to our workplaces than good.

Employees, and in some cases, managers, may think that showing up to work regardless shows they are ‘doing their bit’. But in reality, this slows down the individual employee’s recovery, whilst impacting the rest of the team by potentially spreading their physical illness or mental negativity office-wide.

These employees – and in some cases, entire teams – simply won’t be able to perform at their peak. Productivity levels will plummet, office morale will take a turn for the worse and the business’ bottom line will suffer as a result.

This issue – coined ‘presenteeism’ – is a growing problem across UK businesses. In 2016, the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) Absence Management Survey found that nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents observed ‘presenteeism’ taking place within their organisation.

But how do we tackle this? After all, we need our employees well so that they, and our business, can perform well.

Wellbeing is a business necessity

Rather than trying to tackle the consequences of our employees being unwell, we need to be more proactive, preventing poor employee wellbeing and subsequent presenteeism before it has a chance to occur.

Businesses all have practical maintenance plans in place to keep the most important machines and equipment – such as IT systems or company vehicles – performing at their peak, to minimise the risk of a costly breakdown.

But what about the most important cog in our business’ machine – our employees? Are we looking after them? Well?

Providing employees with access to a health plan repays the costs of their health check-ups, appointments and associated treatments. Employees will have 24/7 access to GP services, around the clock support from a counsellor, professional advice at the end of a phone and the opportunity to get their physical aches and pains looked at.

As a result, employees will be more likely to take better care of themselves amidst the increasing burdens of modern day living. They will be empowered to have good physical, mental and financial wellbeing.

This healthy attitude can spread further than your health plan.

As an employer, encouraging employees to eat healthier by providing fresh fruit in the communal areas or to get active by promoting walking meetings will help your business to demonstrate real commitment to the maintenance of your employees’ health, wellbeing and performance.

A prevention over cure approach is most effective at improving your employees’ health and wellbeing in the long term – meaning they remain at the top of their game day in, day out. Employees will be able to remain in work and the risk of presenteeism is reduced.

Building a business case for everyday wellbeing and performance

In a society of squeezed budgets, HR professionals are increasingly being required to produce business proposal documents for their employee benefit recommendations to be reviewed by decision makers.

At Simplyhealth, we have produced a 5 step guide to help you build a successful business case for everyday wellbeing and performance. Download your free guide now from: simplyhealth.co.uk/PerformWell

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