This week marks the beginning of the end of the age-old sick note, with GPs in England now being asked to write ‘fit notes’ that spell out what tasks employees can do, rather than focusing on what they can't. With many businesses increasingly concerned about the impact of their employees' health and wellbeing on their bottom line, MT asked Investors in People's Tony Salt for his top tips on boosting workplace health.
1. Understand the issue
It’s about more than swapping biscuits for bananas. A healthy workplace relies on creating a culture that supports employees' mental, physical and environmental wellbeing, on a sustainable basis, for all concerned.
2. Involve employees
Make sure employees understand your commitment to a healthy working culture and how it can benefit them. Seek their ideas and suggestions on steps that would help them contribute their best.
3. Get the basics right
No new initiatives or perks will make a difference to employee well-being if the right foundation isn’t in place. This relies on giving employees a voice and seeking their views on areas such as job design and objectives, rather than feeling it’s a one-way street.
4. Get to know individual employees
Making sure you really understand what makes your employees tick and, conversely, what worries or troubles them, will mean you can provide the type and level of support they need to help them perform at their best.
5. Involve and support managers
An individual’s relationship with their line manger is key to their well-being, and therefore their performance at work. Managers need to understand the influence they have and feel they have the information and support to play the role expected of them.
6. Consider initiatives to promote physical health
There are many initiatives or offers that can help employees improve their physical health. What’s right for one workforce may not be as relevant for another, but options include health screening programmes (including cholesterol checks), subsidised gym facilities and low-fat options within canteens.
7. Create clear development paths
Employees with clear development paths understand how they fit into the organisation and how the company will help them develop. Creating personal development plans shows employees you have confidence in them, that you value their contribution and that you will help them achieve their potential.
8. Recognise performance
No-one should under-estimate the impact that even a simple thank you has on employee well-being and commitment. Make sure that your managers regularly recognise the contribution made by their people and that you celebrate examples of success from people at all levels of the organisation.
9. Encourage feedback
Make sure you have clear and credible feedback systems in the organisation so employees always feel they can raise issues and concerns, both publicly and in confidence. Make sure you act – and are seen to act – on the feedback employees give you.
10. Maintain your commitment
Embedding a healthy working culture takes time and commitment. It always requires constant monitoring to ensure you pick up any emerging issues and are able to address them rapidly.