How to nurture a healthy, productive workforce

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has recently published guidance to employers to address the effects of poor working environments on peoples’ lives. Workplace health continues to be a significant issue, costing the UK economy £13.4 billion, the equivalent of 27 million lost working days each year.

The guidance recommends simple changes for employers to make to help reduce sick leave and create a healthy, productive workforce. Here are the key areas covered:

Organisational commitment

Organisations should demonstrate their commitment to health and wellbeing by incorporating it into all aspects of the business, from corporate policies and communications to managers and directors acting as good role models.

Physical working environment

Management have the responsibility to ensure all facilities and equipment is clean, safe and well-maintained. It is also advisable to provide a comfortable ‘break out’ area with drinks and healthy snacks available to encourage employees to take breaks away from their desks or work areas.

Mental wellbeing at work

Developing a supportive environment will reduce stress and help employees achieve a good work-life balance. Managers should demonstrate desired behaviours such as recognising good ideas and proactivity, encouraging peer-to-peer recognition and celebrating achievements.

Fairness and justice

It is important that employees feel they are treated fairly; you may have policies in place to ensure this. However, even with the correct policies in place, it is important that line managers know how to direct employees to support if the employee feels they have been treated unfairly.

Participation and trust

Employees thrive in an environment where they feel valued and trusted. Employers can facilitate this by offering support and training, promoting team working and actively seeking employee contributions in decision-making through staff engagement forums.

Senior leadership

Leadership should be consistent with a positive approach to employee health and wellbeing through performance reviews, organisational goals and objectives. Senior leaders have the responsibility to ensure policies are in place and implemented, and to challenge behaviours and actions that adversely affect employee health and wellbeing.

Role of line managers

Line managers have a key role in facilitating the 2-way communication channel between employees and the organisation; consequently line managers have an important role in protecting and improving the health and wellbeing of their employees.

Leadership style of line managers

A positive leadership style encourages creativity, new ideas and opportunities to learn. A supportive relationship allows the employee to flourish in their role and thrive on the recognition. By providing a sense of meaning, the line managers build teamwork and commitment within their teams.

Training of line managers

Senior managers should identify training gaps and provide training to ensure their line managers can fulfil their potential. In addition, it is also important to provide training to increase awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues.

Job design

Engaging employees in designing their roles and responsibilities helps them to achieve a balance in their workload. Giving employees a flexible work schedule is of great benefit to the employee but should be balanced with organisational needs and resources.

Monitoring and evaluation

Introducing any changes requires regular monitoring and evaluation. This can be done with employee engagement surveys and via the feedback from line managers. Activities and policies should be adapted to address any gaps identified in the evaluation.

How Wider Plan can help

Wider Plan offers a range of products to help increase employee engagement, recognition and wellbeing. Focussing on three main areas, Wider Plan has designed these innovative products to meet the needs of both the employer and the employee.

  • Wider Wallet PLUS provides a full voluntary benefits portal. The portal can be utilised to promote new policies and benefits.
  • Wider Rewards is a flexible reward and recognition platform designed to meet your organisation’s recognition objectives.
  • Wider Wellbeing is a cost effective way to improve engagement, health and positivity amongst your employees, with information and access to health management tool, health screening, engagement surveys and employee assistance programmes.

Visit our benefits page for more information.