Workspaces can reduce employee absence and boost productivity through the introduction of health-related activities and schemes.
Every year 170 million working days are lost because people are too sick to go into the office with work-related ill health (23 million) and injuries suffered while on the job (four million) resulting in a large number of days taken off, according to a report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
As a result, employers are being encouraged by the trade union to aspire to the promotion of a healthier lifestyle among staff members and given the amount of time spent at work, the workplace is a good place to start.
In order to improve wellbeing, companies that use London office space can introduce a range of measures to make staff members feel more valued through a healthy work environment.
For example, offering healthy lunch options in the canteen and providing a regular supply of free fruit will help employees to be more conscious of the effects of a good diet on wellbeing. Furthermore, staff should be encouraged to step away from their desks during break times in order to feel refreshed.
By providing an on-site gym or subsidised membership of a local fitness centre, employers can instill as healthier attitude into employees, who should also be encouraged to cycle to work. If offered provisions such as secure bike storage place or schemes where staff can get discounted bikes and cycling accessories, employees would benefit from regular exercise.
TUC’s Frances O’Grady said: “Far too many days a year are being lost through ill health. Sensible employers who are able to identify problems at an early stage, and who introduce changes to prevent ill health and promote well-being will reduce sickness absence and increase productivity.”
The report points to the fact that standard measures of wellbeing are not enough to promote a healthy working environment. Ultimately, organisations need to encourage people to look after themselves while at work by ensuring they are active, take proper breaks and eat well.
As heavy workloads are leading to increased stress and office jobs promote sedentary lifestyles, the issue of staff wellbeing is one that must be addressed by every organisation.
Not only will this help to promote a healthier approach to life among employees, it will also lead to greater productivity and retention.
And while many employers have already taken the first step by setting up health and wellbeing initiatives within their shared office spaces, poor promotion means staff members do not know about the programmes on offer at their organisation.
That is according to research from Virgin HealthMiles, which found that only 51 per cent staff feel they have a good understanding of the wellbeing schemes offered by their employer.
The figures come despite the fact that wellness initiatives are high on the list of staff members who are keen to maintain a positive lifestyle while at work. Nearly nine out of ten respondents said this was one of the most important considerations when seeking employment.
Not only can a healthy workforce help to reduce the amount of sick pay an organisation has to contend with, but motivation and productivity will also be boosted.
Indeed, seven out of ten people questioned in the study said that health and wellbeing programmes directly benefit their outlook and working culture.
Anne Ruddy, president and chief executive of human resources association World at Work, said: “Encouraging and promoting a healthy workforce is no longer simply the right thing to do, it’s a business necessity.”
And for those firms who do not yet have a wellbeing programme in place but would like to set one up, it may be useful to know that 78 per cent of staff said they would be more encouraged to take part if there were incentives involved.
In addition, having a weight loss programme is one of the most-desired initiatives by employees, as well as help to stop smoking and manage workloads and stress.