Ask the expert: What is 'workplace health'?

The Business Health Matters programme was created in Lancashire to help improve the overall health and wellbeing of employees throughout the county.

By bringing together a network of partners including the University of Central Lancashire, ukactive, Lancashire Mind and various local authorities and leisure trusts, our programme provides accessible workplace health support for businesses of all sizes.

Businesses tell us that the health and wellbeing conversation can be overwhelming and even conflicting at times and that knowing where to start is notoriously difficult.

So, we will be using this regular column to answer your questions, helping you find the support you need within your organisation.

In this first column, we get to grips with the basics in response to a reader query from the construction sector.

Q: What is ‘workplace health’?

A: Put simply, workplace health is ‘promoting and managing the health and wellbeing of staff’ and includes managing sickness absence and presenteeism (a person who is physically at work but is unproductive).

It’s important to break this definition down into the two clear elements of ‘promotion’ and ‘managing’ so that you can understand where to begin in your organisation.

‘Promotion’ plays an essential role when supporting employees. Although it is something that is often deprioritised for more time-sensitive work, positive health and wellbeing promotion is a catalyst for change in the workplace.

By promoting better nutrition options, national campaigns or encouraging staff to take breaks and complete physical activity, a culture where employees make positive choices each day is created.

Empower a member of your team to lead on this and become an accredited Workplace Health Champion with us (for free!) to get started.

The ‘managing’ side of workplace health is often the more challenging part of the puzzle.

This requires offering tangible solutions, such as insurance or health checks, which can often feel daunting and cost-prohibitive.

This has been recognised in Lancashire and is why the Business Health Matters programme was developed. Within our workplace wellbeing programme, we deliver comprehensive health checks and provide a wellbeing plan for each employee, with ongoing support packages from a range of local authorities and leisure trusts.

We recognised that it was time the ‘managing’ side of workplace health was made accessible and that’s exactly what we are doing.

What has historically been viewed as a ‘nice-to-have’ is now something that is essential for every business to take seriously.

With 11.9 million working-age people in the UK now having a long-term health condition (DWP, 2016) and poor mental health costing UK employers around £45bn each year (ONS, 2018), now is the time to get help in promoting and managing the health of your team. Because as a county, we simply cannot afford not to.

Want to ask us a question for the next issue or find out more about how we can help you? Email businesshealthmatters@activelancashire.org.uk