Belfast Telegraph

Lisa McCaul: Looking after staff's health is always good for business

Healthy option: a workforce’s wellbeing should always be a top priority
Healthy option: a workforce’s wellbeing should always be a top priority

By Lisa McCaul, Business Growth Enabler

Ulster Bank Boost has been on the road again and for the latest in our series of free business events, we're talking healthcare. Last week, more than 50 healthcare professionals, healthcare business managers and owners along with Ulster Bank staff, gathered at Malone House to learn more about business matters in healthcare. The event was a great success and each of our speakers gave valuable insight into the legalities of running a healthcare business.

Having spent the evening examining business matters and healthcare, I then started to wonder about healthcare matters in business. How many employers would turn out on a cold winter's evening to discuss employee wellbeing and is this something business owners take seriously?

Thankfully at Ulster Bank, and with many of the businesses we work with through Boost, the answer is a resounding 'yes'. It goes without saying that an effective and productive organisation relies on having a healthy workforce but it's important to remember this applies equally to mental health and physical health.

So why should organisations be interested in wellbeing? Putting aside the obvious costs associated with poor physical health, lost productivity or a decrease in revenue and turnover, mental health related costs can also be significant.

It's generally accepted now that one in four of us will be affected with a mental health related problem at some point in our lives, but what should employers do to help reduce the levels of absence caused by stress or other mental health problems?

From hosting and attending other business seminars where we explored this very topic, one answer which seems to crop up again and again is to help your employees realise their full potential. An engaged workforce is less likely to feel stressed or undervalued and by putting a clear strategy in place to motivate your team, you will combat issues such as presenteeism while boosting the profile and competitiveness of your company.

Within our own organisation, we have many outlets which encourage our colleagues to feel more engaged at work. We have a strong women's network, an active LGBTQ+ group and the opportunity for all staff to become involved with charity work through our 'Give a Day' volunteer service. These may seem like small initiatives but having them in place sends the message to all of our teams that they are our most valuable asset and therefore we want to help them feel fulfilled in the workplace.

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For those businesses struggling to get wellbeing programmes off the ground, there are many organisations out there who can help put a positive framework in place. Business in the Community for example has led the way in this area and are doing excellent work in assisting employers to get the best from their employees.

It's not about telling your workforce what to do or adding to an ever-growing to do list, but rather it's about giving your colleagues the space and freedom to create the kind of working environment that allows them to shine.

Ultimately, when employees shine the whole company shines so if you haven't done much in the way of enhancing employee wellbeing, now is the time to reach out to other organisations and ask for help.

Belfast Telegraph