This year the Belfast Telegraph is introducing a new award, Excellence in Workplace Health and Wellbeing, sponsored by the Public Health Agency (PHA).
Effective workplace health and wellbeing support can have a wide reach, benefiting workers, their families and communities. And employee engagement has become the key to successful workplace health programmes, with employers needing to find out what the health and wellbeing concerns are for their employees and putting in an action plan to provide support.
Now the PHA is encouraging as many businesses as possible to apply for the Excellence in Workplace Health and Wellbeing award. The award is for businesses with up to 250 employees.
Full details of the criteria and how to enter can be found at https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/editorial/web/events/businessAwards2018.pdf
Janet Calvert, the PHA's workplace health and wellbeing lead, said: "A good working environment where people are valued, has the potential to increase wellbeing.
Effective workplace health programmes can make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of employees, businesses and the communities in which people live and work.
"Many businesses are doing great work supporting employees and we want to give this the recognition it deserves.
"Highlighting good practice through the Belfast Telegraph awards will hopefully encourage other businesses to learn and grow their workplace health programmes.
"We spend a large portion of our day in work, so it is crucial that we take a whole-day approach to health and wellbeing and don't treat it as something that only needs to be thought of outside of work hours. It is our aim to see the difference made to employees in the workplace benefitting their families and communities," Janet added.
Good examples of workplace health and wellbeing support include good HR policies, help to stop smoking, healthy weight programmes, training of workplace health champions, mental health awareness training and programmes, cancer screening, alcohol awareness sessions, lunch time physical activity programmes and cycle-to-work schemes.
The business case for supporting employee health and wellbeing makes good business sense, as it can result in increased productivity, a reduction in sick days and the promotion of positive relationships between employers and employees.
The Health Survey NI published by the Department of Health in October 2017 highlights health and wellbeing issues for the population and shows where support could be best targeted in the workplace.
Nearly a third of people had concerns about their own mental health in the past year; a fifth (20%) of adults smoking cigarettes and 62% of smokers wanting to stop; 36% of survey respondents were overweight and 27% were obese.
The survey revealed only 42% of respondents met the recommended weekly adult physical activity levels and over one-fifth (22%) of respondents reported drinking in excess of the recommended weekly limits.
The PHA said it is working with businesses and other organisations to deliver services and support people to make healthier choices.
The PHA aims to improve the health and wellbeing of society by addressing the causes of health inequalities.
It also works to protect public health and improve public health and social wellbeing.
The PHA commissions workplace health and wellbeing services and is actively working with businesses to improve people's chances of leading long and healthy lives.