The Health in the Workplace Report by One4all Rewards has revealed just how much of an impact work can have on employee health and wellbeing. 11% of the 2,000 UK workers surveyed said that they had become ill as a direct result of their work in the past year. And with twice that number (22%) saying that they regularly suffer from high levels of stress due to work pressures and 17% admitting they often have problems sleeping as a result of their jobs, it’s perhaps no surprise that some workers are falling ill. This is serious food for thought for employers looking to maintain a positive working culture for employees.

And employee health isn’t the only reason why employers should be taking these findings seriously, and evaluating the culture within their business as a result: a significant proportion of workers (23%) confessed that they were underperforming in their work as a result - suggesting overworking employees can damage work quality and productivity.

Thankfully for those businesses getting this right, it works both ways - when asked to estimate what impact a more positive environment would have on their performance, 22% estimated their output would improve by over 10%.

In order to assess the culture within your company, One4all Rewards recommends taking the following steps:-

  • Regularly Review Sickness Rates - Monitoring the number of sick days workers are taking in some detail, looking at both which departments are seeing the highest figures, and drilling down into the data to see whether it’s specific job roles or levels that are feeling it worse than others - is it over-worked managers who are taking the most days, or is it the junior members of staff who are experiencing the greatest impacts on their health? - can help educate as to whether there are cultural problems within sub-sections of the business.
  • Conduct Exit Interviews - When a member of staff does choose to depart the business, ensure there is someone in the company - whether that’s a HR representative or a line manager from another department - there to talk through their reasons for leaving. Keep a record of them, and regularly review the common themes which appear - again, drilling down to examine common trigger points within certain levels and departments.
  • Assess the Working Environment - Take the time to assess your employees’ working environments. Is there an air conditioner system which is contributing to spreading germs throughout the office? Do employees have access to hand santiser? Are there problems with repetitive strain injury within the offices, due to unhealthy desk set-ups? Consult a professional occupation health specialist, or get HR to look into the correct ‘healthy’ layouts for desks, including chair height and monitor level.
  • Do Annual Company ‘Health Checks’ - Task your internal communications team with conducting an anonymous employee wellbeing survey once a year, in order to assess staff satisfaction levels and gain insightful feedback into how employees feel about their working environment and its impact on their health and wellbeing. Use this to shape your goals for employee satisfaction and wellbeing, and to decide on achievable changes which you can commit to, in order to improve these for the year ahead.
  • Appoint Wellbeing Monitors - For those businesses without dedicated internal communications staff, task a manager in each department with keeping an eye on, and promoting, their team’s wellbeing and working culture. Is there someone who is working late regularly, or often overly stressed? Ensure managers understand the impact staff health and wellbeing will have on their team’s productivity as a whole, and communicate to them how important a happy and healthy workplace is to senior management.

If, having done the above, you find your business is lacking, you may be one of the 1 in 5 workplaces which workers feel have a negative impact on their health.

Businesses looking to improve worker health and wellbeing should consider regulalry reviewing their working environments, and taking steps to improve them, perhaps through incentivising healthier behaviours by rewarding staff with health-promoting benefits like fintess activities, duvet days and creating the right facilities in the office. Those who do are likely to reap the rewards in improved productivity and employee engagement levels, and see a decline in absenteeism.