Wellbeing in the Workplace

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2018 Community Service Group Conference
31 October 2017
Carried as Amended

Employers in the Community & Voluntary Sector including Housing Associations are taking staff wellbeing more seriously than ever before, healthy employees who feel that they’re being looked after are more likely to perform their roles at a higher level, take less time off sick, are more energised and engaged, and better at motivating their colleagues.

Physical inactivity comes at a cost not just to our health, it hurts the economy and an estimated £20bn per year is lost through periods of sickness. In every workplace, the major cause of the 131 million sick days taken in the UK is down to back, neck and muscle pain and over a quarter of UK adults are classed as physically inactive or live a sedentary lifestyle. In a recent survey, 50% of workers stated that they would be more active at work if they were informed of how it would improve long term health.

Lengthy working hours play a large part of the time taken on sick leave, less working hours led to a 50% decrease in time taken off sick, higher levels of contentment, and more energy in both the workplace and at home. This becomes the right work/life balance, reducing the number of hours worked could lead to an ensuing increase in productivity and reduction in sick leave.

Alternatively there are other options available, flexible working – which all UK employees have the legal right to request – allows staff to request changes to the number of hours worked, required working times or being more flexible with their place of work. Giving staff the flexibility to care for disabled relatives, do the school run, or attend classes outside work can help to reduce turnover, improve morale, attract new employees, reduce absenteeism and increase productivity.

Healthy food is better for us may not be a shocking announcement, but the impact goes beyond health: a good nutritious diet improves everything from concentration to memory. It is said that what you eat affects your productivity; encouraging a proper diet should be a must for management who want to look after their staff.

The British Heart Foundation offers free advice on how to run healthy eating workshops in the workplace, which can help you to assess how things could be improved.

Right, having covered what to eat, how it should be eaten, this is crucial to staff wellbeing, although focused on the office template it also affects other types and places of work. A 2017 report disclosed that nearly 40% of staff have their lunch at their desks on four or more days per week. The issue is also there in care and support provision as service users of all levels of learning disabilities need support when they need it not in 5 minutes or 30 minutes but immediately, at least in some cases there is an option of joining the service users for lunch but not in every supported facility.

Supporting staff to take a proper break for lunch can help. A change of surroundings and company stimulates the mind, and sends staff back to their duties enlivened and ready to work.

Workplace mental health has long been taken for granted – because stress is a sideline in all workplaces, but has gathered pace and gained more attention from the Community & Housing Associations. Many workplaces seem to go about making everyone as stressed as possible and then it’s just a matter of which one snaps first. Managers are not doing their job if they aren’t paying attention to how their staff are feeling and this leads to poor performance in the organisation. My understanding of the management role is to provide support for the support staff that ensure that the quality of life of the vulnerable is maintained, improved and does not deteriorate due to the lack of support and the wellbeing of support staff.

Mental health problems cost organisations in the UK £30 billion a year through lost production, recruitment and sickness absence, which is a great deal when considering how much organisations can do themselves to improve the mental health and wellbeing of their workforce. The most stressed people are often the most diligent and organisations are at risk of losing really good people if they don’t pay attention to what’s going on around them.

We call on the Community Service Group Executive to:

1. Generate a survey in the Community & Voluntary Sector and Housing Associations and from the results gauge the level of wellbeing advice provided by organisations to their support staff.

2. Develop a guide to wellbeing and work in the Community & Voluntary Sector and Housing Associations that will provide advice and ways of improvement in workplace wellbeing.

3. Work with Learning and Organising Services (LAOS) to ensure availability of courses for Health and Safety reps in branches in the Community & Voluntary Sector and Housing Associations to share best practice of wellbeing in work that will promote the benefits of wellbeing to organisations in order to kickstart an initiative to benefit all support staff that may in turn reduce sickness levels.