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Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd


Focus Archive

Are you working healthily in your workplace?

March 2014

Promoting health and wellbeing in all workplaces is an essential approach. Everyone wins! Occupational safety and health practitioners aim to work with others, particularly occupational health and human resources specialists, to improve employees’ work performance and reduce sickness absence.

As a large part of an employee’s life is spent at work, employers can and should play an important part in helping their workers achieve a good quality of life. The workplace can also be a useful arena to encourage people to improve their health.

The UK Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) uses the following definition of wellbeing, which balances the needs of the employee with those of the organisation:

“creating an environment to promote a state of contentment which allows an employee to flourish and achieve their full potential for the benefit of themselves and their organisation.”

This definition is strongly linked to employee engagement and creating an organisation that employees will want to work for because they feel safe, are valued by their employer and feel part of a happy and supportive work community. This is part of what is called the “psychological contract”.

The psychological contract recognises that employees’ commitment is not achieved through pay alone. Employers who pay attention to quality of life issues can help secure employees’ commitment and motivation, and so improve productivity and retention rates. Changes in work practices are affecting some aspects of the psychological contract, such as job security, so it is important that employers counter this by looking after other areas that have an impact on employees’ wellbeing. For instance, the CIPD notes that research shows that there is an important link between good work–life balance and a positive psychological contract.

The UK government’s strategy paper, Health, work and well-being – where caring for our futures clearly focused on strategies for preventing ill health and supporting those with health problems to remain in or return to work, helping them and their families, and also reducing the societal costs of sickness absence and incapacity for work. So, employers and society need a workforce that is motivated, physically and psychologically well, and resilient, and a holistic approach to wellbeing can help achieve this.

This can be through a variety of approaches: