Healthy Workplaces

shutterstock_51861817The search is on to find the world’s healthiest workplaces
This spring, London is hosting a new award scheme and summit aimed at finding the world’s healthiest workplaces, namely organisations using the most innovative programmes and practices to make the biggest impact on the health and well-being of employees and their surrounding communities.

The Global Healthy Workplace Awards and Summit, sponsored by Cigna, an international health insurance and service company, will be held from the 10th to 12th April 2013 in London at the Waldorf Hotel.

The award scheme is the first to use the World Health Organization (WHO) Healthy Workplace guidelines to recognise programmes in the global workplace.

The WHO Healthy Workplace Framework covers four main avenues of influence: physical work environment, psychosocial work environment, personal health resources and enterprise–community involvement. Awards will be given in three categories: large employers, small and medium-sized enterprises and organisations that excel in one of the four key areas.

The two-day summit will include the identification of emerging and better practices, and finalists will have an opportunity to share ideas with the summit’s attendees. The second day will be devoted to presentations and dialogue related to workplace and community health among global business and health leaders.

Commenting on the awards, Dave Guilmette, President of Cigna’s Global Employer Segment, said, “Communities and workplaces around the world are facing rising chronic disease and escalating health care costs. Cigna is convening global experts to shine a light on best practices that will make workplaces more productive and competitive and, in doing so, will improve the state of global health.”

Why promote workplace health?
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has published two new reports on the factors motivating employers and workers to carry out and participate in workplace health promotion activities.

The first report focuses on the motivating factors for employers to carry out programmes, and the second on the motivation for workers to participate.

It is argued that workplace health promotion programmes can benefit everyone – workers, companies and society.

The researchers say that workplace health promotion “means more than simply meeting the legal requirements on health and safety” but also encompasses “employers actively helping their staff improve their own general health and wellbeing”.
Workplace health promotion programmes are often closely related to risk assessment and may focus on various key areas, including:

  • Participation of employees in the process of improving work organisation
  • Active involvement and consultation of employees in improving their work environment
  • Raising the topic of healthy eating at work, giving information on healthy nutrition as well as offering healthy canteen food or facilities to prepare food
  • Tobacco awareness, including smoking cessation programmes and a comprehensive smoking ban at the whole company site
  • Mental health promotion, such as courses for managers on stress and tension within teams and the opportunity for anonymous psychological consultancy for employees
  • Exercises and physical activity, offering sport courses, encouraging physical activity, and promoting an active and healthy culture at work
  • Health monitoring, offering checks such as blood pressure or cholesterol level
  • Any measure aimed at enhancing wellbeing at work, for example enabling flexible working hours or working from home.

The reports note that by making workers feel better and healthier, workplace health promotion leads to many positive consequences such as:

  • Reduced turnover and absenteeism
  • Enhanced motivation
  • Improved productivity
  • Improving the employer’s image as a positive and caring organisation.

shutterstock_61014895One in five workers don’t take lunch at all
A new survey by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has found that one in five workers fail to take a lunch break during the working week and nearly a third think bosses do not care very much about their health.

The survey results were released in the run up to National Heart Month in February 2013 and also found that:

  • More than a quarter of people believe that being healthy at work is important, but that the economy means their health is not a priority for their boss
  • More than two-thirds believe their boss should be taking responsibility for their health at work
  • Nearly one in five workers do absolutely no physical activity during working hours
  • Around a third of people resort to chocolate as a pick-me-up to help them get through the working day, while over two in five rely on a cup of coffee
  • Almost half feel stressed at work on a daily basis.

During National Heart Month, the BHF is encouraging people to sign up to its free Health at Work programme, which offers:

  • A welcome pack, including a quick guide to health at work
  • A health at work e-newsletter
  • Resources on physical activity, healthy eating and mental well-being
  • Tools and posters to download
  • Access to Heart Matters – a free service for staff to help keep hearts healthy
  • Access to an online community where members can share ideas and tips.

The Health at Work programme is being supported by former javelin world champion Fatima Whitbread who said, “I’m calling on bosses all over the UK to step up to the plate and help colleagues get fit, eat well and look after their mental well-being … Why not sign up to the BHF’s Health at Work programme and make it your mission to kick-start your company’s health in 2013?”

Go to to sign up today.

Disclaimer: The information provided through Legislation Watch is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Legislation Watch is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.

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