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Workplace welfare: considerations for employers

22nd January 2018

Wellbeing has become a strong focus in UK business practice, across the majority of industry sectors. A 2014 study showed that an improvement in staff wellbeing increases productivity, quality of work and, ultimately, profitability. With organisations nationwide making a concerted effort to boost the health and happiness of employees, a number of innovative ideas have crept into offices and contracts of employment. However well-intentioned these may be, quirky perks and wellbeing solutions are often unsustainable and, usually, are not what candidates are looking for in their search for a workplace. Instead, increasingly, employees are on the lookout for workplaces that provide genuine support in the long and the short term.

There are two factors to workplace wellbeing: mental and physical health. Promoting a company culture and environment that sustains these two vital aspects is essential.

Supporting physical health

According to recent figures, 39% of employees suffer from back pain whilst 31% experience neck pain, and the subsequent absences from work are costing British businesses over £3bn a year.

Work-related back and neck pain is not an issue to be ignored and, whilst you may not be able to accommodate measures such as yoga in the office, it’s an easy issue to tackle. Employers have a legal obligation to make sure that all staff are sitting at their workstations in the correct way. Everyone in the office should be sitting as far back in their chair as possible, with their feet flat on the floor and armrests at a level that accommodates relaxed shoulders.

Back and neck strain, whilst common, are not the main causes of physical ill-health though. In fact, 43% of employees complain of eye strain. Encouraging regular breaks from looking at the screen is an easy way to tackle this and avoid any unnecessary cost incurred from work-time trips to the optician.

In recent years, repetitive strain injury (RSI) has also become an issue as more and more employees spend longer at a computer. In fact, an estimated 1 in 6 workers suffer from the ailment. Again, encouraging regular breaks and providing ergonomic equipment where necessary will save business resources in the long run.

It’s a good idea to regularly check in with workers on their physical health, as well as to bring in an occupational health professional if you feel it’s required.

Sustaining mental health

Employees’ mental health is essential to ensuring that everything runs smoothly within the business. Stress, anxiety and depression can all impact both output and the quality of work being delivered. When it comes to promoting mental wellbeing, employers need only make a few small changes.

Office configuration and décor have a big impact on wellbeing. Whilst necessity dictates that changes need to remain within the limitations of the space you’ve got, it’s not impossible to make a few tweaks to make the office a better place to be. Employers need to ensure enough natural daylight and fresh air is making its way into the office, as well as adding a splash of colour and some greenery to enhance creativity and boost moods. The World Green Building Council surveyed office workers and uncovered that employees’ cognitive scores increased by 101% for those working in green, well-ventilated offices, and staff getting plenty of natural light slept 46 minutes longer than those working in artificially lit spaces.

Work/life balance is also vital to consider in ensuring that staff are not stressed or under pressure to be in two places at once. There has long been an assumption that flexible working equates to reduced output. However, we consistently see positive employer-employee relationships in workplaces that offer more flexible solutions; it demonstrates both value and trust on the part of the employer and allows employees some extra breathing space, to fulfil commitments they will inevitably have elsewhere.

Perhaps most importantly, encouraging openness is key in ensuring workers remain happy and healthy in the workplace. Employers should adopt an “open door” policy and engage regularly with staff to check in on how they’re feeling. It’s often poor communication that causes stress, especially where staff feel overloaded with information, excluded from key conversations or unable to share views and ideas. Talking can be the best therapy, and encouraging a culture of openness and understanding is often crucial to maintaining a productive workforce who enjoy what they do.

At Grafton Banks Finance, we recognise the importance of employee wellbeing from the ground up. If you'd like to find out more about how we can help you, please contact Nigel Jeyes on 01273 229499 or email for an in-depth, confidential consultation.

Should you wish to contact us out of hours, please call 07714 765482.

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