caring-for-workersAs the old saying goes, if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. This is why companies look to find the best candidates for any given position, be it entry-level or senior management and also why they look to hold on to good workers. Obviously there is a monetary element to worker retention, but there are other ways to increase the odds of your staff staying with you. One of these elements is the aspect of health and happiness in the workplace.

Ill health can force early retirement

Recent research by the TUC showed that ill health forces up to 12% of workers to retire up to 5 years before their planned retirement date. The research highlighted the potential challenges involved in raising the state retirement age in response to extended life-spans. In simple terms, we may be living longer but that does not necessarily mean that we are able to go on working for longer. Whether or not it is feasible for any given individual to go on working into their late 60s and 70s depends on a number of factors. Some of these involve circumstances beyond an employer’s control, such as their family-health history, but others can be influenced by the workplace. Employers will already be aware of health-and-safety legislation and their legal obligation to keep their employees from being unreasonably exposed to harm at work, but there are many more steps employers of all sizes can take to promote healthy living on the part of their employees. This cannot only help them to make the most of older people in the workplace, but can also help to reduce disruptive absences due to sickness.

Appreciate ergonomics and use them wherever possible

Repetitive strain injury is a risk in any occupation where people repeatedly undertake a habitual action. In these days it is often associated with office workers using keyboards and mice, but it actually occurs across a variety of occupations “housemaid’s knee”, and “tennis-player’s elbow” are examples of this, even card dealers can get RSI from the recurring actions involved in dealing cards. Take a look at what your company does and how it does it to help to avoid these kinds of injuries.

The growing-bigger problem

It’s unlikely to come as a surprise to anyone that people in the UK are growing bigger and it’s not necessarily healthy. While the fundamental reason for this is that people are consuming more calories than they need for their lifestyle, the reasons why this is the case may vary. Employees may not know about healthy eating, in which case fun, work-place based events to educate them may make a difference. Alternatively, it may be an issue with time pressure, in which case there may be steps you as an employer can take to help them and thereby to help yourself. For example, you may find you need to wean people off a culture of working through lunch and into one of taking a break to eat properly and rest their minds. You may also need to encourage people to leave at the end of a standard work day, instead of working extensive overtime on a regular basis (even if it is paid). This may mean taking on more staff or outsourcing work to agencies or freelancers or automating it. The cost of this needs to be seen in the context of avoiding losing an employee and having to go through the recruitment process again, with all the disruption that can cause.

Exercise is about more than just weight

Possibly the most obvious reason for exercising is that it helps people to keep their weight down, but it can have other benefits too, for example team or club sports can have a social element. Even when budget is too tight for subsidised gym membership or other perks, there may be ways you can help. For example you could participate in the government’s cycle-to-work scheme.