Now I’m always a little sceptical of what our friends at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence have to say. After all, these were the guys who suggested that plumbers should add another string to their bow and become “first responders” to support traditional health and care staff with identifying people at risk.
However, on this occasion, I do actually think there’s something in what they’re saying.
Work-related illnesses cost society in the region of £13bn a year and estimates for England, Scotland and Wales suggest about 27m working days were lost to illnesses.
NICE’s guidelines are designed to address these statistics and are aimed at employers, managers and employees. The body suggest bosses must take responsibility to ensure staff are appreciated for the work they do.
The suggestion that staff should set their own shifts and working hours may have made the headlines, but of all the things that can be done, this is one that will have to vary from company to company. But the general ethos behind these guidelines is solid and should be adopted by employers.
It’s worth saying that, in my experience, I think most business owners do acknowledge the importance of a healthy workforce to the productivity of the company. While not every workplace will feature slides, video games and bean bags like some tech startup in San Francisco, they’re also not Victorian sweat shops.
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Unfortunately, sometimes, the day-to-day activities of doing business can get in the way and it’s easy to forget there are a few simple things that can be done to improve the wellbeing of their employees.
Now I’m not talking about “new-age”, mystical meditation sessions where the workforce sit in a circle and chant “om”, but practical and common sense activities.
At Pimlico Plumbers we brought in weekly massage sessions on a Friday and recently launched a fitness club with our own on-site personal trainer James Dean (or “The Terminator” as some of our lads have nicknamed him), running session and football matches, which run on a weekly basis.
The reaction from our staff has been fantastic and all the sessions are in-demand. We’ve also created a roof garden, complete with its own artificial lawn, hedges and bushes, and of course there is our ever-popular canteen with its consistently changing menu of healthy meals and snacks.
It’s a no brainer to have incentives like these in place for staff and it’s great to see businesses being encouraged further to bring them in.
Having healthier and happier staff means less absences and more productive workers. It’s common sense, plain and simple.