WORK YOURSELF WELL
Even if you’ve never been sick of work, the chances are that you’ve been sick off work. According to a report published by the Office of National Statistics last year, the average worker had 4.4 days off due to sickness in 2013. Even if we exclude ten per cent of what amounts to 131 million days as what we might euphemistically call ‘duvet days’ (ie, skiving), that’s still a hell of a lot of genuine sick days.
Whether this means workers have got healthier and hardier or more worried about taking sick days in a rocky economy, it’s hard to say. But what’s not hard to say – what needs saying, in fact – is that 131 million sick days is still too many. Not because it costs employers an estimated £29billion a year, but because sickness is good for no one and a lot of these sick days are avoidable – by making more workplaces healthier, and so happier, places to be.
Simple things like healthy food options and better labelling in the canteen, and lunchtime walking or running clubs are inexpensive and small improvements that can make a big difference to your work day. Cycle-to-work schemes too are increasing in popularity, and having showers at work means that physical exertion doesn’t mean you need to be dishevelled at your desk all day. I know of workplaces that run yoga classes, groups to help employees stop smoking, and even a firm that has a Wii Fit in the office. Some offices implement Pedometer Challenges, pitting employees against each other for fun, to see who can work off the most calories.
If your current workplace doesn’t provide these services, ask yourself if you want to stay there and if you do, suggest such initiatives to your employer. Put together a team for a local fun-run, half-marathon or endurance event like Tough Mudder. Get sponsorship and donate the money raised to a local good cause and it’s your body AND soul that you’re doing good. Is there a gym nearby? Ask if they’ll offer you and your colleagues cut-price membership. Deliver the numbers and the gym might deliver a discount.
And it’s not just physical health that can be improved. With stress, anxiety and depression accounting for 15 million out of those 131 million sick days, workers’ mental wellbeing is just as important as their physical health. While taking regular screen breaks and getting some fresh air during the day is important, you can improve your wellbeing sat at your desk too. You might also have heard a lot about mindfulness and while I’m far from what anyone would describe as ‘new age’, I think it’s worth giving mindfulness exercises a try. Google or search on YouTube for ‘mindfulness’ to find out more or search for a podcast that can help soothe anxieties produced by even the most manic workplaces.
These are little things that don’t require a lot of money. Good management is about listening to your employees and trying your best to make their work lives better. Make sure you work somewhere that isn’t bad for your health or your wellbeing. Smart employers want you to be healthy and happy at work – on a purely mercenary level, sickness levels are reduced and staff turnover is reduced, which improves business costs. But on a wider level, businesses have a responsibility to society and the country as a whole to contribute to the nation’s health. As you do as an individual and a worker. By taking even the smallest steps, you can do your bit for your own health, your colleagues’ health, and for our beloved but beleaguered NHS. The workplace should be somewhere you can improve and promote your health and wellbeing.
Best of luck,
Craig Burton is a seasoned specialist recruiter of over twenty one years with The Works Recruitment