Speaker: Dame Carol Black (Expert adviser on Health & Work, Department of Health and Public Health)
In this increasingly complex world, we have an increased focus on productivity which can, at times, be counter-productive.
What prevents us from working well? Common mental health problems, Musculo-skeletal problems, the quality of work and the workplace (including leadership behaviour and the absence of ‘good work’), along with other factors.
What do we need for health, wellbeing, and resilience ? Good work and workplaces, early interventions by GPs, and proactive ‘reformed’ Occupation Health. Engaged staff, with supportive and empowering leadership along with good support (and a real focus on wellbeing and resilience).
Predictors of back pain are not always medical, and decision control at work, and leadership culture have a major impact.
“If I could only invest in one thing, I would invest it in training managers”. Dame Carol quoted a Danish study where poor social support, lack of role clarity, and lack of meaningful work caused major problems. An intervention focused on middle managers had a major positive impact.
“Having a psychologically healthy workplace and having a profitable and sustainable business are linked”, and Dame Carol called for an integration and linking of Occupational Health and wellbeing initiatives.
Staff need to be empowered to improve their health and wellbeing. An initiative at The Walton Centre NHS Trust was cited where staff sickness absence rates were halved after staff involvement in designing a health an wellbeing programme. A major part of the initiative was increased physical activity, the importance of which should not be underestimated.
One size does not fit all when it comes to a resilience programme, and it depends on what is needed. There are many potential initiatives and things like reading groups, allotments, and a choir can all have there place.
Wellness programmes can benefit the employer, can be cost effective, and can help the company be employer of choice (as part of an appropriate HR programme).
“Britain’s Healthiest Company” study showed that both absenteeism and presenteeism have a major cost. There was also a strong correlation between lifestyle (including BMI) and sleep.
The video recording of the session has been released and is here:
Good work and good workplaces
Employee wellbeing and engagement