Health and well-being in the workplace

January 2, 2019

Kathryn Taylor, managing partner at Gordon Brown Law Firm LLP, discusses employee health and well-being, as well as the benefits that it can bring to businesses

More than two-thirds of UK employees experience stress in their jobs with nearly half of UK businesses offering initiatives designed to promote health and well-being in the workplace*. For employees in the North East, and the UK as a whole, the issue of staff health and well-being and its link to productivity is becoming increasingly important.

At Gordon Brown Law Firm LLP (GBLF), employee well-being is an extremely important part of the business. At GBLF we have introduced a formal well-being policy as part of an updated staff handbook; this includes a breastfeeding policy and improvements to our alcohol and drugs policies.

We have also implemented an employee assistance programme and are active members of the Better Health at Work Award (BHAWA), which is sponsored by the NHS. The scheme is an excellent way for employers to learn about promoting well-being and is free to businesses in the North East and Cumbria, regardless of size, location or type of business. For those that already promote a healthy lifestyle, their achievements will be recognised, and they will be helped to move forward in a structured and supported way.

It’s essential that managers in the workplace are encouraged to undertake and provide continued support for employees returning to work after an absence. It is also significant that they are trained in mental health awareness, which allows them to understand how to support those who may have issues and help them in the workplace.

While it is almost impossible to measure productivity, we have had lots of positive employee feedback in terms of health and well-being initiatives at GBLF. They feel like they are well looked after and enjoy participating in the events that we put on. The business is continuing to grow, and we have certainly seen a significant reduction in attrition rates since we introduced these initiatives, and increased scores on annual staff surveys.

At GBLF, we have health and well-being advocates who regularly hold meetings with staff and encourage suggestions for upcoming initiatives. Staff are encouraged to feed into the initiatives that are taking place and feedback on how we could improve them. Where possible, we also link to national awareness events such as the National Work Life Balance Week in October and International Day of Elimination to Violence Against Women in November.

Many companies now have a formal policy in place, and I expect that number to grow significantly in the next few years. It will soon be commonplace for businesses, and those who do not have policies will struggle to attract the best talent.

If a business promotes employee well-being on its website, as well as during the interview process, this increases the opportunity to add value and thereby become an employer of choice. Also, by communicating success stories to jobseekers and recruitment agencies, a business enhances its reputation. There is definitely a correlation between a focus on well-being and the health of staff and their desire to work for a company.

When employees know how supportive you are and how much you care about their well- being, they are more likely to offer discretionary behaviour and less likely to be absent or resign.

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