As an employer, you have a legal responsibility for health and safety in your workplace. You will have undertaken risk assessments in your setting to ensure that both staff, visitors, parents and children are protected and you will have insurance cover to protect you as a business should an incident occur. So, you are legally compliant……but is this enough? Are you focussed enough on improving your employees health?
Over the course of many years there has been a strong link proven between employees’ health and productivity in the workplace. Furthermore, over the last 6 years there has been a worrying trend where workplace absence has increased year upon year.
A recent report that was commissioned by FirstCare, who specialise in workplace absence management, found that absence in the workplace is currently costing the UK economy £18bn, and this is predicted to rise even further. So as an employer should you just accept this as a part of running a business?
A common response to this question is that as much as businesses want to provide their staff with the best benefits possible, they are restricted through issues such as time, finance etc. However, when it comes to offering health benefits and improving your employees health these issues can be easily overcome, and by spending minimal time and energy there can be very positive outcomes for the business. So, let’s begin by looking at some reasons why offering health benefits will work for your business:
Consider the cost of sickness in the workplace – not only are you paying sick pay, you also may need to hire additional agency staff to ensure that you are covering your ratios. By looking after your employees health and welfare, rather than costing your business money, you could actually save money to invest in other areas of your business.
Staff Recruitment and Retention:
We commonly hear about the difficulty of finding the right employees in the early years sector. Naturally employees will be seeking a good salary but additional employee benefits can be every bit as important and research has shown that health benefits are actually one of the most sought-after benefits by employees.
Improved performance in current workforce:
Happy staff are motivated staff, and research has shown that staff who feel cared for, supported, and invested in, are the most productive and engaged staff, and they will be the employees who go the extra mile to ensure success for a business.
So, if the above sounds good to you and you are thinking how you can improve your employees’ health in your setting, then there are some quick and easy suggestions which may help provide some ideas that could work within your business.
When people think of health benefits, health insurance tends to be front of mind. Although this used to be something that would more commonly be offered in bigger companies, it is something that is being made more affordable for small businesses and accordingly there is in recent years a steady rise in the number of small businesses offering this benefit. There is also a health cash plan which is becoming more popular, which gives employees tax free cash back towards health care such as eye examinations/glasses, dental treatment, physiotherapy amongst others.
If offering insurance schemes is not right for your business then there are many other benefits that you could consider that will positively impact your employees’ health.
It is often said that a fit and healthy body equals a fit and healthy mind, so supporting your employees in keeping fit is something to be considered. Some companies use subsidised gym memberships as a way of doing this, however you could lay on a fitness class ‘in house’ after work or encourage employees to walk/cycle to work where appropriate.
On 13th September 2017 it marked the fifth anniversary of an excellent cycling scheme, cycle to work day. It is completely free to take part in this scheme and it is open to all. This is run by Cyclescheme, whose research has shown that for those interviewed, almost half of those who cycle to work reported feeling less stressed in the workplace.
Another factor to consider is ensuring there is a comfortable space for those who choose to walk/run/cycle to work to change and freshen up before commencing work – any little improvement you can make to your workplace to encourage activity can make a big difference. I have even heard of a scheme where vouchers are offered for new shoes/trainers for those who walk to work! So, think beyond the everyday norm for ways you can encourage activity in your workplace.
As well as fitness, diet and nutrition is another area in which you can easily implement changes, which will help your employees’ health. We all know the lunchtime temptation to reach for the chocolate to provide a quick sugar burst, which is closely followed by the mid-afternoon slump! So, providing healthy snacks in the office or eating area can be an easy win.
You of course have your first aid kit in the workplace – but have a remedy kit too, containing items such as vitamins, first defence sprays etc to try and hit back at any bugs at the earliest opportunity!
The most important thing to remember as an employer is that your employees are your most valuable assets and are the difference between success and failure. Investing in your employees health is investing in your business, and the more you can make your employees feel valued, and cared for then the more productive and efficient they will become for your business. And if through a small investment you have the potential to make a cost saving as a business then that truly can be a win win situation!
If the above has inspired you to take action we would love to hear your stories of how you have implemented change in your workplace that has improved your employees health and wellbeing – maybe if you have had a charity activity day, or indeed participated in the cycle to work scheme we would love to see the pictures and share in your successes.
Have fun and stay healthy!
Less HR More Learning!