Promoting a culture that improves the health and wellbeing of employees is good management practice and leads to a healthy and productive workplace, according to the Department of Health. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published a new set of guidelines calling for employers to do more to address the challenge of creating a productive and healthy workplace.
Workplace health is a significant public health issue. Each year more than a million working people in the UK experience a work-related illness. This leads to around 27 million lost working days costing the economy an estimated £13.4 billion.
The reasons for poor workplace health are widespread and include long irregular hours, lack of control over work and discriminatory practices.
To address this, new guidance on workplace policy and management provides advice on how to develop the culture of an organisation to create a positive environment. The guidance is aimed at employers, managers and employees and covers a range of areas from organisational commitment to the leadership style of line managers.
Potential for “most significant” impact on workplace efficiency
Dame Carol Black, the Department of Health’s Expert Advisor on improving the welfare of working people, says: “When its influence eventually comes to be measured – in terms of the quality of service and product, workplace efficiency and productivity, and staff morale – this new guidance from NICE might well prove to be the most significant ever.
“There is abundant evidence that the health, especially the mental health, and overall wellbeing of employees depends greatly on their relationships at work. That means their relationships with each other but particularly their relationships with employers, from line manager to the most senior executive and board member. These relationships are encapsulated in the concept and practice of engagement – a concept that reflects the culture of an organisation.”
“The precepts contained in this guidance are simple and plainly put. They are already observed in exemplary organisations. It should not be difficult to translate them into practice in all.”
Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive and Health and Social Care Director said: “Every workplace is different and the relationship between management and employee wellbeing is a complex one, dependent on numerous factors including occupation, sector and so on. However, there are some basic principles that should be applied by all employers, directors and line managers – these include ensuring the right policies and management practices are in place.
“Recommendations include encouraging new ideas and exploring new ways of doing things and opportunities to learn, recognising the contribution of each employee and if possible a flexible approach to work scheduling, giving employees more control and flexibility over their own time.”