Free article: Looking after your employees’ health and well-being

Published: Monday, 20 February 2017

Bruce Jenner discusses how looking after your employees’ health and well-being can reduce absenteeism and improve staff retention.

Summary

  • By being proactive about the health and well-being of employees, dental practices can help reduce absenteeism and improve staff retention.
  • It is important that dental practices understand the demographic of their workforce, for example younger people tend to be more health conscious and are more likely to participate in sport or visit a gym.
  • There are ways of tackling a sedentary working environment by incorporating exercise into daily working life for employees.
  • Studies have found that there is a link between physical fitness and better performance at work.
  • Many organisations are now investing in workplace health-screening services for employees to support their general health and well-being in the workplace.

More than three quarters (80%) of employer respondents felt that it is important to offer employees a wide range of benefits, according to research by Grass Roots Employee Solutions.

For several years now, there has been an increasing rise in ‘office-based gym-equipment’, ranging from exercise balls replacing the office chair, to standing desks replacing the need for chairs altogether.

Recently though, the divide between the office and the gym has become more blurred, mainly due to the increase in remote working and a change in the way businesses employ and manage staff.

Some gym chains have started to incorporate work stations into their new building designs, where remote and self-employed workers can plug in and carry out their business in the comfort of gym leggings and trainers.

Gyms are moving further away from a place you force yourself to go to before or after work, and towards a more holistic experience complete with juice bars, breakout areas, and charging ports. It is now common to see interviews or other meetings taking place in cafes at gyms.

Demographic changes

In the UK in 2015, gym memberships soared by 44%, with the impact of younger people joining the workforce who are more health-conscious than their Baby Boomer and Generation X counterparts.

Recent figures from the Office of National Statistics suggest that a quarter of Millennials are teetotal, and they are smoking and using drugs less frequently too. Having lived through a recession and finding themselves burdened as graduates with huge amounts of debt in a challenging housing market, it would appear there is a more cautious and self-aware generation moving into the world of business.

Employers therefore need to be aware of the changing trends and demographics in their workforce, and closely monitor and manage the differing motivators for each generation to maximise returns from their human resources.

Physical fitness

Studies have also found there is a link between physical fitness and performance at work, suggesting that the highest-performing workers are most likely to be those who are the healthiest overall.

The advances in wearable technology have also brought fitness and work closer together. Consequently, many organisations now hold inter-departmental challenges and competitions incorporating the use of fitness trackers.

Promoting well-being

Sushi and bento restaurant chain Wasabi announced in December 2016 that it has introduced an employee engagement programme for its UK staff. The new programme gives employees access to benefits such as retail and leisure discounts, discounted health MOTs and corporate rates for gym access. These benefits can be redeemed 24/7 online via a computer, tablet or mobile device.

In addition, Wasabi will provide staff with access to a wellness hub, which aims to enhance financial, emotional and physical well-being. It offers online classes in yoga, healthy cooking, exercise and meditation, and includes a 24-hour assistance helpline.

Virgin Atlantic also appreciates the benefits of looking after its employees. It held a health and well-being event in November 2016 for its UK employees. Virgin employs 9,300 people in the UK and hosted the well-being event at its Crawley site, the main training centre for all crew, contact centre and engineering staff. Approximately 300 employees attended the event.

The event featured a range of well-being information and activities for staff, with several providers on-site to offer expert guidance. Employees attending the event could gain information on mental health and financial well-being, smoking cessation, alcohol awareness, sexual health, sun protection and awareness and healthy eating. Other activities and information available included mole checks, work station assessments, a spin bike challenge, and a FitBit challenge.

If your dental practice isn’t quite ready to encourage its staff to wear fitbits or head to the nearest gym/workspace, a simple step you can take is to encourage staff to hold ‘walking meetings’. These work well for small groups or one-to-ones. As well as having obvious health benefits for staff in sedentary jobs, studies have found that they increase creativity and innovation, and strengthen relationships between teams. Where you have a larger group, you could try a standing meeting instead, which provides the same benefits but is easier to manage.

Many organisations are also now investing in workplace health-screening services for employees to support their general health and well-being in the workplace.
For a small cost, the Loch Health Wellness Check helps dental practices to ensure their workforce performs at its peak level by:

  • helping to uncover ill-health problems in the early stages and therefore reduce absenteeism
  • supporting employees’ well-being
  • increasing staff loyalty and retention due to investment in their well-being.

Steps like this could be the way towards a smarter, healthier way of working for everyone.

About the author

Bruce JennerBruce Jenner is Director of Loch Health, part of the Loch Associates Group. The Loch Health Wellness Check is a comprehensive individualised screening service that tests for indicators of key conditions, e.g. high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, hypertension and kidney disease. For more information on Loch Health, please visit https://www.lochtraining.co.uk/loch-health/.

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