This week, we jumped into an inspiring event packed full of information on a wide range of workplace well being topics at The Health and Wellbeing @ Work Conference, Birmingham. Our brains were filled and aspirations broadened. We had the privilege of listening to success stories and examples of best practices. We exchanged ideas and updated our knowledge on the very best tools and technologies that can help us all to not just survive but thrive in the workplace. The opportunity to learn, improve and expand our knowledge was immense – far greater than we ever anticipated.

After many hours of listening, learning, discussion and networking, there were two take home messages for OSWC:

Are we being proactive or reactive in our attitude to health and well being in the workplace?

Do we react only when we realise our sickness stats have rapidly increased?  When do we realise that we need to implement a health and well being strategy? After a quick succession of staff members leaving? Or are we proactively taking action to ensure our sickness stats do not increase? Or better still, taking action to ensure they decrease? Do we have a solid onboarding process for new employees which can do nothing but lead to happy and healthy staff?

There are proactive measures we can all put in place to maintain and improve employee’s health and wellbeing. This isn’t just a fruit box once a month. It about having well thought out strategies and incentives, caring for staff on a daily basis, giving them space and time to talk. Work is no longer just a salary. Work can be a place for staff to look forward to, to learn from, to improve in and flourish. The time and effort we out into these aspects of our business will ultimately lead to greater staff retention and profits.

Are leaders truly grasping the correlation of having workplace well being with a profitable business?

New research methods are emerging and health and wellbeing measurements more accessible and available. It is becoming easier to see the monetary value of staff health and wellbeing. Are we giving our MDs this information?  We must show our CEOs the research. Research showing that investing in staff and promoting health and wellbeing in the workplace increases retention rates and decreases sickness absence. Raising awareness of key principles that contribute to a healthy body and mind can drastically increase a person’s productivity and satisfaction levels. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. It might be: one yoga class a month. Or encouraging a culture where staff take 10 mins a week to ask each other the question: ‘how are you?’. It could simply be encouraging your staff not to respond to emails at 3am in the morning, rather, taking that time to sleep!

What are we waiting for?

So what are we waiting for? We’re living in a truly exciting time in which our workplaces are moving, changing, improving and evolving, for the better. We’re no longer exchanging work for a wage but we can have a enormous influence on our employees personal and professional development, their physical and mental health and their outlook on life. We can make a real difference to our staff, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

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