Live your best life every day – not just on World Health Day

by Julie Coxhill, Product Director

There’s no day that challenges us to think about our life choices and health decisions like World Health Day. A day that draws worldwide attention to global health, many individuals finds themselves reflecting on their wellbeing – mental and physical.

Setting aside the time for health

 While we manage to prioritise our workloads, families, homes, finances and everything else that demands our attention, health and wellbeing can often take a back seat. Not surprising considering the fast-paced world in which we live. But unfortunately, our health is the one thing on which we may not be able to turn back the clock. So rather than being forced to hit the brakes and look back in regret, why not pause, take stock and give your body and mind a much-needed MOT?
As our home and work lives become more and more intrinsically linked, many organisations are looking at ways in which they can support employee health. After all, healthier and happier employees often produce better results and contribute to a positive working atmosphere. But how can organisations implement strategies that work? 

Shifting perspectives

On the surface, employee wellness has come a long way in the last few decades but with recent research showing that desk jobs are likely to do equal harm as a smoking habit, we have to ask whether we are making true, impactful progress?
Nowadays, the term ‘health and wellbeing’ is banded a cliché term across offices. Often offered to keep employees on site for longer, to be more attractive than competitors or just to tick a HR box, the ethos behind such a strategy is often questioned.
However, with most individuals spending almost 50% of waking hours at work, can organisations really afford to not look out for employee welfare, physical and mental health?

Employee mental health

1 in 4 working people today struggle with mental health - with workload, lack of support and bullying cited as the top reasons why. Millennials and Gen X are among the loneliest individuals in our organisations today. And if someone has suffered with mental health issues under the age of 18, they are more likely to have these continue into their 20’s.
Arguably, the world in which we now live compounds these issues. With technology encouraging comparison culture and preventing individuals from ‘switching off’, it’s no wonder that mental health is continually on the rise.
As mental health becomes more discussed and accepted as part of our culture, organisations have a role to play in supporting employee mental wellbeing. Whether it’s ensuring individuals are not consistently expected to work late, check emails at all hours or whether it’s creating a positive workplace culture – mental health is a crucial section of today’s employee health and wellbeing strategies.

Where’s our team spirit?

Up until the age of 18, young people are encouraged to take part in physical activity on at least a weekly basis. Whether it’s exercising as part of the school curriculum or ensuring a range of sports clubs are available for students to join. Those that attend University, will often find the same offerings through the Student Union. From cheerleading, netball, lacrosse, football and more, there are a variety of sports for students to partake in. Joining such a team doesn’t only do wonders for physical health, it also encourages comradery and provides a sense of progression and achievement.
And then we start work. While some individuals may carry on team sports, representing local towns or cities, most will pack up the kit and find their routines changed forever.
For workplaces, creating schemes that take team spirit beyond departmental groups while encouraging individuals to continue physical activity could result in positive improvements across employee mental health, physical health and workplace culture.

Implementing a Health and Wellbeing strategy

The key to implementing a health and wellbeing strategy that truly works, is by embedding it into your culture. The tone must be set from the top but supported at all levels. Try the following Health and Wellbeing Toolkit to start creating a strategy that delivers improvements to your business…
Step One. Define a wellbeing message for employees, i.e. ‘work hard and be nice to people’.
Step Two. What do your people want? Ask them!
Step Three. Appoint a Happiness Officer. Make your organisation the best place to work.
Step Four. Appoint Tool Kit Champions and use them to deliver your health and wellbeing message.
Step Five. Help your employees build physical exercise into their working week.
Step Six. Empower your employees, get them to own their mental and physical wellbeing.
And then… analyse, analyse, analyse! Not everything will work, but if you listen to your employees and continue to try out strategies they want to see, you’ll end up with a powerful health and wellbeing strategy that can help transform your business.
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