Belfast Telegraph

Looking after wellbeing of staff within the workplace

By Dr Tony McGread

We have all either said it or heard it many times, “where would you be without your health… sure isn’t your health your wealth”. 

These are sayings as old as the hills and, who knows, maybe as far back as Stone Age time when work in exchange for goods or services was known to have existed (10,000-6,000 BCE). So maybe even the era of the ‘Flintstones’ recognised that ‘managing health enables business’. 

This means managing health both at the individual level — we all have a responsibility to manage our own health and wellbeing — and in society, guided by good government in the form of Public Health strategies and delivered via local health services, both private and public.

However, the employer has a fundamental role in this. That is, they have an input into how health is managed at work, both at an individual and a corporate level. This is particularly true when restructuring an organisation or introducing other organisational changes, when the health impact can and should be anticipated and managed. At each of these levels a quality occupational health service can be invaluable.

For the employer of course there should be a clear business incentive to do this when measured against the ‘bottom line’.

But the employer is also guided by legislation in the form of Health & Safety at Work Order (Northern Ireland) and equality law, including the Disability Discrimination Act (2005). In my experience, many employers also would like to be in a position to “do the right thing”. That is, there may be an altruistic element to managing health at work.

All in all, I believe creating a workplace culture that puts health-related issues at its core is a vital principle of good business.

In effect, the employer should consider all of these issues and take a strategic decision, using experienced occupational health professionals in doing so. 

Contact OHRD at Princes House in Belfast on 028 9026 8460

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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