The past few weeks have seen PHE involved in some exciting initiatives with other employers who share our commitment to taking good care of the physical health and mental wellbeing of their staff. There is a real groundswell of energy and commitment in this area and so much interest in learning together across sectors.
Most recently, we were pleased to be involved in the City of London Corporation’s launch of the ‘Business Healthy’ initiative on 11 March, which attracted many big firms based in London with a national and global reach. The conference also featured news of some smaller companies taking action to promote their employees’ health. Dame Carol Black told us of one such example: ‘TRAC’ in Cornwall, which offers cost-effective staff health initiatives each month, with benefits from enhanced staff wellbeing and reduced sickness absence, resulting in recognition for the company through staff awards.
We welcome employers sharing experience and adding knowledge and evidence as they try out new initiatives. One example is that of the City Mental Health Alliance, set up by business for business and aiming to make it easier for mental health issues to be talked about in the workplace and for people living with mental illness to continue to contribute and thrive at work. ‘Business Healthy’ will draw on this initiative and the experience of many others across the country by establishing a virtual network of employers committed to sharing experience with others.
PHE will be an active member of the Business Healthy Circle which will establish positive health and wellbeing as a defining part of the way that the City is seen and works.
It’s encouraging to see many more employers taking the health, wellbeing and engagement of their staff more seriously. Many of us spend a significant part of our waking hours in work, so the workplace is an important setting for promoting wellbeing and raising awareness about specific health concerns and how to tackle them. PHE is convinced of the benefits and absolutely committed to taking good care of the 5,300 people we employ across our 115 sites as well as promoting their recovery following periods of illness, which most people will experience at some stage in their working lives. Many of us will expect to remain in work longer, so employers need to play their part by creating healthy employment opportunities for people of all ages and abilities as well as supporting staff to take action on their own health. PHE is approaching this task in lots of ways from developing a national staff health and wellbeing strategy, to promoting a physical activity challenge for teams, and offering access to online information and support on mental health issues through Big White Wall.
We’ve also created a new network of 100 Wellbeing Champions across PHE to help us to get it right - and tell us what more we can do to deliver our ambition to be an exemplary employer.
There are so many ways organisations can take action that it’s never been easier to get it right! The Department of Health’s Responsibility Deal provides employers with helpful information and links to other resources that make it easier to get it right on a range of workplace health issues – from physical activity, to food, to mental health.
We also know it matters that staff working in smaller organisations are able to benefit from workplace health opportunities, even though their employers won’t have access to the same resources as some bigger businesses. Many small and medium-sized employers are deeply committed to their staff and we are hearing about good examples of employers and public health, NHS and charity partners taking action on the wellbeing and resilience of local people. But we’re also hearing many employers find it difficult to make time to focus on workplace health in the midst of competing priorities and many don’t know where to find easily accessible advice and support when they need it. Over the coming months, PHE will be working with a wide range of partners to learn more about how to enable smaller employers to keep their staff well and to support their recovery from illnesses and we will share this knowledge widely.
Featured image courtesy of NHS Photo Library. Used under Crown Copyright.