Can work really affect our wellbeing?

With the UK’s leading ‘Health and Wellbeing at Work’ event entering its 11th executive year; we at VFI360, explore how work performance, progression and state of mind can be affected by the working environment.


Through the fundamental shift in how companies engage with employees, no longer focusing on broadcasting messages but rather cascading messages, pressures to develop and integrate a strategic focus on wellbeing has dramatically changed the working environment.


Workforces who promote a healthy and happy working environment offer a proactive cycle of reduced absenteeism and presenteeism, leading to greater business productivity.  From economy changes, technology advances, digital transformations and changes in customer’s demands, the need, if not necessity to promote and sustain public health is key for a company’s survival in the industry.


Fundamental shifts in clinical research has also indicated a growing correlation between poor working environments and mental health problems, with shocking calculations as a result of presenteeism due to mental ill health alone, costing the UK economy £15.1 billion per annum and absenteeism costing £8.4 billion.


And although pressures are on companies to engage and promote wellbeing of their staff, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, in 2015 UK workforces are 31% less productive than those of the US and 17% less productive than the rest of the G7 countries.


But what can companies change to increase engagement and reduce poor health at work?


Develop a health & wellbeing strategy: Sickness related absences and presenteeism can be possible symptoms of an underlying health problem.  By developing a strategy which manages all aspects of employee wellbeing can have positive reinforcement of a healthy working environment, and can contribute to higher employee engagement.  Consequently, positive and sustainable management of ill health promotes a more positive working environment for employees.


Allow for breaks: From the same ONS report, 48% of highly engaged staff believe a break away from work, i.e. checking social media, tea breaks, reconnecting with colleagues, counter for a better working environment.  Social interactivity and the flexibility to work and have personal time is linked to higher engagement and better wellbeing of staff.


Offer flexible working hours: Flexible hours can determine when, where and how a person will work to better meet individual and business needs. Last year, ILM, leading specialist provider of leadership qualifications in the UK, launched a report advising companies to foster a more collaborative culture in order to boost business success. The research found that more than 34% of UK employees felt they worked in a regulated and controlled structure and when asked how they’d like to change their company culture, 35% of participants advised the top answer of more freedom and flexibility.


Measure and improve: Ascertaining the differences between absenteeism and presenteeism can have a dramatic impact on your overall absence records. Determining the area of focus can help you develop a more sustainable and levelled health and wellbeing strategy and cement understanding of the differences between staff and leaders; recognising the signs leading to prolonged absences.


The need for employers to invest in the health and wellbeing of employees, in a strategic and proactive way can be incredibly counter active on staff as well as business productivity.


A healthy and more engaged workforce offers the opportunity for better production, increased profits through improved efficiency, customer relationships, colleague interactivity and performance levels; securing a higher position in the industry as a transparent and employee focused company.


Employee health and wellbeing shouldn’t be an optional extra, but an integral part of company longevity!


Article by: Emma Williamson

Written for: VFI360


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