Belfast Telegraph

Why we must look after wellness in workplace

Powering through: Many people work on despite illness
Powering through: Many people work on despite illness

By Clare Kelly, director at Glandore

Tissues at the ready, the winter flu season is upon us. Let the synchronised sniffling commence as employees cough and sputter towards the office Christmas party. More and more of us are weathering our seasonal viruses, braving the glares of neighbouring colleagues and turning up to work when we're unwell.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the average number of sickness days taken by UK workers has almost halved from 7.2 days in 1993 to 4.1 days in 2017. The statistics would suggest that UK employees are at their healthiest but if that's true, then why isn't it reflected in more workplaces.

A drop in the number of sick days may be seen as a win for employers but the reluctance of staff to take time off can be a sign of mounting pressures in the workplace and can ultimately produce an unhappy and unhealthy workforce, in body and in mind.

According to Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), who surveyed more 1,000 organisations this year, 86% said their staff often come into the office while sick or unwell.

The rising trend has increased in recent years compared with a survey in 2010 when just 26% of employers observed this behaviour.

Not only are the pressures of the office preventing people from taking time to recover from sickness at home, the CIPD survey also found that high numbers of people were willing to work while on holiday as they feel under pressure to work regardless of their own needs.

Sometimes a company's culture can encourage long hours or reward a behaviour of overworking, but employers who are looking to retain and recruit top-calibre employees are realising the need to promote well-being as a key pillar of their company culture.

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And this has to be more than just paying it lip service to make any meaningful difference.

Employee well-being needs to be at the heart of how you approach your working environment, your staff benefits and the overall culture you create for the people who work for you.

The influx of FDI companies into Northern Ireland has positively influenced the way in which companies approach workplace well-being, and has had a direct impact on the amount of discussion on the topic. Even among the sceptics, there is a growing awareness of the benefits of mindfulness and mental wellness, and companies realise they should be proactive when it comes to employees' mental well-being.

At Glandore, we focus on wellness in mind, body, life and finances through our Glandore Wellness Programme, which is provided for free to all members. We offer a range of modern and innovative services that will evaluate, engage and energise our members to create a healthier workplace.

The programme is delivered through monthly webinars, onsite seminars, exercise classes, pamper days and more, and today 87% of employers in Glandore buildings are committed to workplace well-being.

Promoting a culture of wellbeing in the workplace not only benefits employees but it has a strong connection to costs, driving the company bottom line - 77% of Glandore member companies agreed that a health and wellness programme has led to lower healthcare costs and reduced absenteeism. Employers who create an environment where people feel respected and valued, where the demands of the job are reasonable and where personal development is supported will see high, sustained engagement levels and increased productivity.

Employees are the force behind the company driving growth and innovation. If companies aren't looking after the cogs, how do they expect the wheels to turn? Healthy, motivated employees are the fuel that power a successful, growing business.

  • Clare Kelly is a director at serviced offices provider Glandore

Belfast Telegraph