It is well known that many of the top employers are encouraging healthier lifestyles, gym memberships, and healthcare plans. Work-life balance is now on the agenda for many HR managers, however does gym membership go far enough? Is there a chance that even with these interventions the pressure of work, demanding deadlines and a culture of long working days with inadequate breaks leaves you open to problems arising from stress, back pain or other health issues? We know from medical research that staying seated for long periods is very bad for us and counter-productive in terms of workplace performance. Can you afford to cover the costs of absenteeism or even possible litigation? Could you take steps to reduce the likelihood of employees using the grievance procedure? Unless taking a break is fully endorsed and demonstrated by management it could lead to further problems.
IOSH, the Chartered body for health and safety professionals, “Move more” report - “Investigating the impact of behaviour change techniques on break taking behaviour at work” (2014) states:
“We can produce better behaviour change interventions by securing demonstrable management commitment – participants need to know and have it demonstrated to them that the goal behaviour (moving more) is fully endorsed by management; workload must not be allowed to override healthy behaviours.”
If employers were to survey their employees 6 months after the gym membership has been introduced they would not be surprised to see about 5% participation, the other 95% will not be using the gym. Common barriers are lack of time, too much of an interruption during the day, not wanting to get hot and sweaty, not wanting to wash hair or reapply makeup or they don’t like exercise. Can this be ignored and is gym membership the best option available to address wellbeing? For 5%, most certainly and resoundingly yes; however for the other 95% alternatives should be explored. If taking a full hour (or sometimes longer) at the gym is not the answer why should you encourage an (inclusive) active break?
ACAS – Promoting health and wellbeing
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) – such as back pain and arthritis – account for a third of all GP referrals and cause 9.5 million lost working days each year. The main reason for being proactive in tackling MSDs is that you can do something about these disorders before they happen. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has identified some of the risks that can often lead to musculoskeletal disorders. These include physical risks, such as:
- repetitive and heavy lifting
- uncomfortable working position
- working too long without breaks
- bending and twisting repeatedly
- exerting too much force.
The working time regulations
Working hours can greatly affect work-life balance. Many businesses are under pressure to satisfy demands 24/7 and must balance this with the needs of their workers.
The Working Time Regulations determine the maximum weekly working time, pattern of work and holidays, plus the daily and weekly rest periods.
In general the Working Time Regulations provide rights to:
- a limit of an average 48 hours a week on the hours a worker can be required to work, though individuals may choose to work longer by "opting out"
- 5.6 weeks' paid leave a year
- 11 consecutive hours' rest in any 24-hour period
- a 20-minute rest break if the working day is longer than six hours
- one day off each week
- a limit on the normal working hours of night workers to an average eight hours in any 24-hour period, and an entitlement for night workers to receive regular health assessments.
Inspired Health and Fitness offer you low cost solutions that are inclusive, unobtrusive and are delivered on site. These sessions will be tailored for your needs giving you exactly what you want. They will meet your strategic plan and will integrate wellbeing for all employees including the 95%.
Go to www.inspiredhealthandfitnes.co.uk for more information on services available.
Ref: Stress and low back pain conditions cause absence from work and cost companies many thousands of pounds. 131 million days were lost due to sickness absences in the UK in 2013. Minor illnesses were the most common reason given for sickness absence but more days were lost to back, neck and muscle pain than any other cause. (Ref: Office for national statistics - Sickness Absence in the Labour Market, February 2014).