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Corporate Health & Wellbeing – Is it all just a bunch of bananas?

by Sarah Bickerstaff

What is the big deal?

Corporate Health & Wellbeing is more important than ever, Why? Well, a few reasons include:

  • Stress at work continues to be one of the highest reasons for short and long term sickness absence
  • The Covid pandemic has had a significant impact on employee wellbeing
  • Post pandemic, we have a resourcing crisis, therefore it makes good business sense for employers to put Corporate Health & Wellbeing front and centre.

So considering those issues, will bunches of bananas and bowls of fruit really cut the mustard? Probably not, no wait, definitely not!.

Don’t get me wrong we all know fruit is good for you, we have to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day to stay healthy apparently.

But when your free work nectarine is lying all wrinkled in the fruit bowl, presenting itself as a raisin, is it really going to increase your employees  Health and wellbeing,  engagement and motivation with the organisation?

 Probably not, no wait, definitely not!

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So as business owners, leaders, managers, colleagues, do we really need to pay attention to Health and wellbeing in our world of work? Absolutely!

Corporate Health and Wellbeing encompasses a wide range of elements that enable employees to bring their whole selves to work.

Tools like the wheel of life and wheel of wellness have been part of coaches ‘ and  HR/Leadership consultant’s toolkits for many years,  but for them to be effective they have to be embedded in organisational culture by the leadership team.

A recent Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)  reported:

 ‘Managers have a critical role to play in influencing how an individual feel about their working life, from creating the right environment to enable people to thrive, to being the first port of call when an employee is unwell or struggling with their health and wellbeing, through to managing absence. Yet too many organisations are not providing the support and training needed to ensure managers have the confidence and capability do this job well’ (CIPD, Health and Wellbeing Report, 2021)

A Corporate Health and Wellbeing Strategy that is thoughtfully developed signals to our employees that we care about them and are willing to give them space to bring their whole self to work.

 However, a ‘Health and wellbeing strategy’ will not magically support staff on it is own. So, as employers, leaders, managers, and colleagues, what we can do minimise the burden that may be affecting how employees feel and present at work.

 A member of my UnravelHR Facebook group described Workplace Health and  Wellbeing as  ‘look after your people so they can look after your business, I think that sums it up beautifully.

What is Corporate Health & Wellbeing?

 Health and Wellbeing defaults to the HR profession, but it cannot be entirely our responsibility.  Leadership teams need to fully embrace the principles and that can be quite a shift in some organisational cultures.

Some of the key components of a robust Health and Wellbeing Strategy include:

  • Mental Health Initiatives Physical Health Support Financial Wellbeing
  • Social Interaction & Connection Courageous Leadership and Management Safe workplace and environment
  • Flexible Working Engaging work

 What are the benefits?

 There is plenty of scope for improvement in this area if we are to maximise the returns on investment this can achieve.  It can bring massive benefits for businesses if integrated with intention, commitment, care, and compassion by our Leadership Teams. Some of the benefits include:

  • Higher employee morale
  • A healthier and inclusive culture Lower sickness rates.
  • Higher retention levels

My Story – My Mission

I don’t claim to be a healthcare professional, a scientist, or a social worker but I do care a lot about people and how they feel when they are at work. I’m committed to helping as many managers as possible to create environments where people thrive and perceive work as a pleasure, not a chore.

I’ve worked with some amazing people over the past 32 years, the kind of people you would be happy for your son or daughter to go and work for. The type of manager that expects you to have issues from time to time and helps you to cope better at work as you deal with them.

I’ve also worked with a  few…..  oh let me think of a professional word….no not that one….no can’t use that one either…..eh….got it…emotionally void people who believed that work and home had clear boundaries where you left your soul and spirit at the entrance! How could that ever be the best way to support a fellow human being!?

Over the past 18 months or so I’ve taken some time to think about my passion and personal goals, this was  triggered by a Breast Cancer Diagnosis in 2020 (it kind of shocks you to the core at 46!) I also reflected on the times when I really struggled during my career, for many reasons work and non-work related, where without the support of caring, compassionate managers and colleagues, I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten through it all on my own. To those people, and they know who they are, I will be eternally grateful and inspired.

I decided I wanted to do all I could to help other leaders and managers be the best they could be.

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So I booked myself on courses, recognising my own skills gaps, and followed my passion by starting my Coaching and Mentoring qualification as I tried desperately to identify and understand where my happy place was after such a life-changing event……I am loving it!

Conclusion

Corporate Health & Wellbeing is much more than a bunch of bananas and wrinkly old nectarines!

We have a responsibility to care for and support our employees. From the research and evidence available it really is a no-brainer in terms of organisational success and sustainability.

In combining my passion for leadership,  management,  health, and wellbeing I have set up UnravelHR a free online Facebook Group for leaders and managers to grow and develop through online coaching and training. I want to be able to reach out to as many people as I can, beyond my marvelous employer Erskine Veterans Charity, who are supportive of my passion outside of work, by offering my knowledge and experience to those that want to make work a better place.

If you would like to learn more about leadership, management or Corporate Health & Wellbeing matters and how they can benefit you and your organisation you can connect with me in my private leadership and development group on Facebook.com/groups/unravelhr, Linkedin www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-bickerstaff or email me at sarah.bickerstaff@unravelhr.com

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