Workforce Well-being is more than Occupational Health
With one in four people in the UK managing mental health conditions, in fact last year, the UK workforce took a total of 137 million sick days. Of these, 15.8 million days were for a stated mental health issue - whether that is stress, depression, anxiety or a more serious condition such as manic depression and schizophrenia.
Source: Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey statistics.
I can not help but think that there is a clear responsibility for the employer to provider a work-space that is safe and welcoming for an employee to be open and transparent about their mental health concerns, and what support they require to improve their mental well-being.
Do employers believe the ownership sits with the employee to disclose this information to the employer, will this lead to employees feeling unsupported, or even pre-judged, hence why most employees do not reveal the true extent or details of their condition to their employer.
In the UK many employers do not provide Occupational Health Services (OHS), and those who do provide this, tend to do so in a tick box fashion, maybe offering gym memberships, and fruit, but not quantifying who is eating the fruit and how much, who is using the gym, and what benefits do they gain from doing so? does this impact on their sickness days? has this impacted on their motivation and productivity at work?
In a recent report published by the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) , cited that 45% employees in the UK were offered access to occupational health services and advice. This may also which demonstrate the lack of investment in the training of personnel in occupational health to support the workforce, at a time where the report cited 1.4 million employees require such support due to work related conditions being possible causes and triggers for deterioration in employee health and well-being.
UK Business is changing rapidly with up to five generations in one work-space and the population ageing and working longer in their career, and therefore employers will need to seek new means of health and wellbeing support for their workforce. There have been government backed initiatives, which form the outset seem perfectly plausible to a business to engage in, such as; the Fit for Work Scheme, and was an initiative that was meant to revolutionise occupational health in the UK by enabling businesses to make referrals to GPs when employees experienced long-term sickness, but was widely criticised for its, however it has poor uptake by both employers and an already stretched healthcare sector, where by the appointments were with the GP who is already managing 90% of the nations health needs on 10% of the total UK healthcare budget, Since 2018 this Scheme exists as a website click function.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) should be given the scope to make it mandatory under the health and safety at work Act, that employee health needs are priority. inclusive of physical, and mental well-being. According to recent HSE reports on work related stress, a total of 44% of all related illness and absence is due to stress, depression or anxiety. This two highest sectors impacted by this were Health and Social care, and Education sectors, which is staggering given that these two sectors have a very important role to play on current and future generations wellbeing and longevity of life.
Government should continue to back and fund initiatives that are specifically being developed to offer employers an opportunity to understand their own workforce wellness needs and shape the way they deliver on their wellbeing strategy and policies. More importantly to give insight to behavioural changes required by the employee to improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing, and the insight to make clearer decisions about their actions.
Watch this space, there are lots of companies coming which are intend on delivering disruptive solutions to help employers tackle this challenge they face, and to deliver not only a return on their investment, but a retention of a well workforce, which is what matters most.
If you require support with your workforce well-being needs do contact us on: firstname.lastname@example.org