Sunday 19 November 2017

Comment: Backing workplace 'wellness' is the next step for employers

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Danny McCoy

We spend a lot of our time in the workplace, so when it comes to well-being there is simply no better place to start.

Ibec is committed to improving employee wellness in the workplace, and we believe this extends beyond staff room posters about healthy eating and exercise. A comprehensive approach is needed that will benefit employees, employers and communities.

As a result, we have developed The KeepWell Mark, an award that recognises and celebrates organisations that put the well-being of employees at the forefront of company policy.

The KeepWell Mark is the first of its kind in Ireland. It assesses companies' commitment to supporting the health and well-being of their people, concentrating on areas as diverse as intoxicants, mental health and healthy eating.

Research conducted by Ibec earlier this year among 1,000 employees found that six out of 10 employees are more likely to stay long-term with an employer who shows an interest in their health and well-being and crucially, nearly half would leave a job where they perceived an employer did not care about their well-being. Furthermore, 70pc of employees said employers should encourage them to be healthier.

It's not just demand from employees that is driving the need for this accreditation. There is strong evidence to demonstrate that having a healthy workforce can reduce sick leave, staff turnover and boost productivity. Naturally this benefits employers, employees and the wider economy. Uniquely, The KeepWell Mark offers all types of employers, from public, private and voluntary sectors, an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the health and well-being of their workforce.

The KeepWell Mark is an easy-to-use framework through which Irish employers can consider how their workplace can be a productive and supportive environment, enabling employees to work to their optimum ability and fulfil their potential.

This Ibec initiative has the strongest of foundations, as it is based on 'The Workplace Wellbeing Charter, National Award for England'. This standard was developed by Liverpool City Council, backed by Public Health England and endorsed by the UK Department of Health and has been awarded to over 1,000 British organisations in the last 10 years. Participating employers have reported significant improvements in staff engagement, retention and productivity while employees and their families have enjoyed real health benefits. It is widely recognised as the business standard for workplace wellbeing across the UK.

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Companies that sign up to receive The KeepWell Mark will have their business assessed by an independent assessor and will be awarded a certificate and plaque to display, as well as an assessment report that will provide a clear framework for further improvement. Successful organisations will also enjoy a benefits including:

l strengthened brand relations;

l reputation-enhancement as a leading model for the protection of employees' wellbeing;

l boosted positioning as a desirable place to work;

l improved performance.

The KeepWell Mark is centred on issues essential for a collective improvement in workplace health, safety and well-being. In order to achieve this holistic approach, the accreditation focuses on eight themes and the impact these have across the entire organisation. With specific focus on these, change for the greater good can begin and the business benefits outlined above, achieved. The eight themes are: leadership; absence management; smoke-free environment; physical activity; health & safety; mental health; healthy eating; and intoxicants.

Most organisations will have existing policies for some or all of these. However, The KeepWell Mark accreditation process takes a deeper look into how these are promoted across the workplace.

To achieve accreditation, employers must gather a portfolio of evidence that shows they meet the required standards and undergo an on-site assessment. A post assessment report provides the organisation with a comprehensive overview of their activities, recognises the areas in which it is performing well and crucially, gives guidance to the organisation on how they can improve their well-being activities, initiatives and policies. Our expert team provides support and guidance throughout the process.

Accreditation lasts for a year. This is a vital part of the process and demonstrates the requirement for ongoing commitment to keeping well in the workplace. It is available to any employer that can demonstrate commitment to the health and well-being of staff.

For decades, Ibec has been a key player at the forefront of the workplace health and safety agenda, providing our members with professional and practical advice, solutions and management training on workplace well-being and occupational health and safety.

We encourage as many companies as possible to sign up to this important initiative. To receive the accreditation, businesses simply need to apply online via thekeepwellmark.ie

Danny McCoy is CEO of Ibec

Irish Independent

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