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27 Mar 2024

Strategies for a Healthier Workplace

Investing in the health of your workforce is not just a legal duty; it's a business imperative. Healthy employees are more productive, more engaged and more likely to contribute to a positive workplace culture. Moreover, by reducing sickness absence, you can decrease the costs associated with lost productivity and staff turnover.

Understanding Legal Responsibilities

As an employer in the UK, you are legally obligated to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of your employees while they are at work, as stipulated by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. This includes conducting risk assessments, providing safe systems of work and ensuring the wellbeing of your staff.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 further requires employers to assess and manage risks to their employees and the public. The Equality Act 2010 also necessitates adjustments in the workplace to support employees with disabilities, including those with mental health conditions.


Strategies for a Healthier Workplace

Promote Mental Wellbeing

  • Lead from the front, ensuring that your company promotes positive mental health and is visibly committed.
  • Encourage open conversations about mental health and de-stigmatise seeking help.
  • Provide training for managers on mental health awareness to better support team members.
  • Offer mental health support through Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), providing confidential counselling and support services.
  • Consider more specialist mental health support options for your staff who have needs that may be more complex.

Encourage Physical Health

  • Implement ‘active meetings’ where possible, such as walking meetings or standing desks.
  • Offer incentives for employees to cycle to work or subsidise gym memberships to promote physical activity.
  • Provide healthy eating options in the workplace cafeteria and vending machines.
  • Support staff to engage in fun challenges and lunchtime activities that promote physical activity.

Foster a Work-Life Balance

  • Encourage flexible working arrangements to help employees manage personal commitments alongside work.
  • Promote the importance of taking regular breaks throughout the day to recharge and prevent burnout.
  • Set clear expectations about working hours and discourage a culture of overworking.

Educate and Engage

  • Host regular health and wellbeing workshops or ‘lunch and learn’ sessions covering topics like nutrition, exercise and stress management.
  • Collaborate with local healthcare providers to offer on-site health screenings or flu vaccinations.
  • Celebrate World Health Day with company-wide events or challenges that focus on health and wellbeing.

Support a Healthy Environment

  • Ensure that the physical work environment is conducive to good health, with adequate ventilation, natural light and comfortable temperatures.
  • Provide facilities for employees to store and prepare healthy meals.
  • Consider the mental environment too; a positive, inclusive workplace culture can significantly impact overall wellbeing.

Monitor and Evaluate

  • Regularly monitor sickness absence and conduct ‘return-to-work’ interviews to understand the causes and support employees in their recovery.
  • Engage more generally with your workforce and seek feedback on how they feel that your organisation supports health and wellbeing and ask for suggestions to improve.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of health and wellbeing initiatives and adjust strategies based on feedback and outcomes.