Presenteeism and the associated loss of productivity are just two of the downsides of not addressing employees’ health. That was the clear message emanating from a recent Shannon Chamber seminar focused on the importance of health and well-being in the workplace.
The seminar, which was organised in conjunction with Laya Healthcare and hosted in Axa Partners, Credit and Lifestyle Protection’s premises in Shannon, drew attention to the importance of focusing on total worker health for the good of employees and the overall business.
Leading occupational medical practitioner, Dr Susan Hill from Cognate Health Ltd., a specialist in workplace mental health and stress, gave an enlightening presentation on the benefits of adopting a ‘connected health’ approach, centred on looking at people as a whole and giving them the tools to stay well for life.
“Employers need to be aware of the link between healthy people and productivity. Today’s working environment is more sedentary and pressurised and can lead to presenteeism, as well as absenteeism, often caused by stress, back and neck pain,” she said.
“Companies should also realise that it’s as important to ensure employees realise that health is not just physical but mental also,” she added.
Dr Hill encouraged companies to set up a Wellness programme focused on total worker health. “It’s so important to keep people healthy, physically and mentally. The payback can be rewarding in terms of reducing absence and improving the attraction and retention of talent.”
With 11 million days lost in work per annum, 60% of which is caused by stress and psychological social issues, Laya Healthcare’s occupational health advisor, Trudi Mc Hugh, recommended that companies set up a system to encourage their employees to ‘think well; live well; and be well’.
“Sedentary lifestyles and poor diet typify many lifestyle behaviours, all of which are easily changed,” she said.
“It’s a matter of giving people the tools to make changes, personalising them and measuring the outcomes.”
Axa Partners’ IT operations manager, Paul Ryan, added: “Wellness can mean so many different things at an individual level. It’s hard to meet the needs of 300 employees but it’s important to get a wellness process underway. Setting easy targets, such a running 100 miles over 3 months is a good place to start. Adding in incentives and prizes for achieving milestones also helps to spread and reinforce the message,” he added.
Thanking all speakers for their contributions, Shannon Chamber’s chief executive Helen Downes said that the Chamber would now look at novel ways of encouraging a greater take-up of the employee wellness concept among member companies.
“The benefits are just so obvious, particularly around presenteeism. A healthy workforce is totally engaged at work; not physically present while mentally absent,” she added.
Companies Should Worry about Health of Their Employees, delegates at a recent Shannon Chamber seminar were told. Pictured after the event in Axa Partners’ company’s gym which shows Axa’s commitment to employee wellness, are IT operations manager, Paul Ryan showing the range of exercise machines to (from left): Dr Susan Hill, Cognate Health Ltd; Helen Downes, Shannon Chamber; Trudi Mc Hugh and Mary Anne Flavin, Laya Healthcare. Photo: Eamon Ward.