Employers need to prioritise health, new guidelines warn

June 26th 2015 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru

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Chief health advisors have said that it’s time for employers to ‘raise their game’ in order to create healthier working environments

According to health watchdog, NICE, employers need to do more to promote a working culture that makes health and wellbeing a priority.

In 2012-13, it is estimated that approximately 27 million working days were lost due to work-related illness, costing the economy an estimated £13.4 billion. Proving to be a growing public health concern, the new guidelines aimed at employers, managers and employees have been created to address a wide range of issues in the workplace, including organisational commitment, leadership style and training of those in senior roles.

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Among the topics highlighted, the organisation calls for all those with a remit for workplace health to encourage a consistent, positive approach to all employees’ health and wellbeing, make clear the link between them and increased productivity, support reasonable hours and regular breaks and to develop policies that respect a work-life balance.

The guidelines also cover training and leadership advice for line managers, providing recommendations on how to be effective leaders, affording employees a greater degree of flexibility over their time and traits that should be avoided to prevent a negative work atmosphere. These include failure to manage employees as a group, ignoring employees’ suggestions, feeling threatened by competent employees and withholding information from colleagues.

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The guidance has been met with approval from chief health advisors with Dame Carol Black, the Department of Health’s Expert Advisor on improving the welfare of working people having said: “When its influence eventually comes to be measured - in terms of the quality of service and product, workplace efficiency and productivity, and staff morale - this new guidance from NICE might well prove to be the most significant ever.

“There is abundant evidence that the health, especially the mental health, and overall wellbeing of employees depends greatly on their relationships at work. That means their relationships with each other but particularly their relationships with employers, from line manager to the most senior executive and board member. These relationships are encapsulated in the concept and practice of engagement – a concept that reflects the culture of an organisation.

“The precepts contained in this guidance are simple and plainly put. They are already observed in exemplary organisations. It should not be difficult to translate them into practice in all.”

Simon Stevens, NHS England Chief Executive also responded to the guidelines saying, “Health-promoting workplaces are obviously good for millions of employees and ultimately for taxpayers too, so the time is right for all employers - including the NHS - to raise our game.”

Follow us @getthegloss and Ayesha @Ayesha_Muttu.

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