Putting the ‘We’ in Wellbeing
“The workforce is still a business’s biggest asset and ensuring their health and wellbeing is of paramount importance. In 2016 minor illnesses, such as coughs and colds, accounted for 34 million working days lost [Office for National Statistics], and in 2016/17 12.5million days were lost to work-related stress, depression or anxiety [Health and Safety Executive, 2017].
In addition to absence from work, both diminished physical and mental health can cause reduced productivity, lack of motivation and poor decision making; further impacting on the success of the business. It can clearly be seen how looking after the wellbeing of personnel can improve a business.
Whilst wellbeing is important from a business point of view, for me personally it is about more than that. I believe that we have a moral obligation to our employees, not only for them to go home safe but also to experience good wellbeing. A construction worker is now more likely to die of suicide than they are from a fall from height (Stop. Make a Change 2017) and although the accountability in the eyes of the law is not the same, I know that I would feel responsible if I hadn’t done all I could to prevent a suicide. It is time for us to shift our focus and consider wellbeing to be as important as safety.
I am lucky to be involved in the development of a pilot programme on site at Gade Valley Viaduct, where we are working with our customer, Connect Plus to develop the ‘Wheel of Wellbeing’.
The Wheel of Wellbeing has six areas of focus; Fatigue management, Physical Health, Nutrition, Effective Stress Response, Mental health and Mindfulness. So far we have arranged a series of health check-ups, nutrition workshops, exercise classes and, more recently, mindfulness sessions. Whilst there has been a mixed response onsite, the programme has been gaining traction and we are really starting to see changes, with more and more people getting involved and having positive experiences.
Research is being carried out to build the case for the programme to potentially be rolled out across the industry. I think this is really exciting as when businesses engage in programmes to support the wellbeing of personnel the benefits are not only mentally and physically healthier people, but also a more engaged workforce – why? Because it sends a strong message that the company care about its employees.
The industry is particularly demanding and to remain competitive in the current job market wellbeing initiatives, such as this, will set companies apart. People are increasingly seeking a better work life balance, somewhere aligned with their values and passions and most importantly a place where they feel valued and able to perform at their best.”
Safia Whitwham is an Assistant Site Manager at Osborne