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Entrepreneurs Panel

David Pollock
Laura Tenison
Steve Purdham
Michael Oliver
Tony Caldeira
Richard O'Sullivan
Debbie Pierce
Julie Meyer
Charlie Mullins
Brian Hay
Jennie Johnson
Jeremy Roberts

Healthy workforce, healthy business

Melanie Astbury, HR Manager at, looks at the importance of employee wellbeing.

A healthy workforce is a productive workforce. How do you ensure that you put your staff in the best position for a clean bill of health? Here are some top tips that are easy to implement.

1. Establish a culture of wellbeing

It's been proven that by looking after staff, business owners are looking after their bottom line. This is because, quite simply, a healthy workforce takes less sick leave.

However, valuing wellbeing does require a shift in attitude, which means ensuring there's a positive approach to wellbeing at every level. If a line manager makes their team feel guilty for taking their full lunch hour to go to the gym, it defeats the purpose of creating a culture of encouragement.

In contrast, if your senior staff are fully on board, they will ensure the culture is adopted. To accomplish this, engage them from the start. Discuss what initiatives they think will work, ask them what they would like to see and encourage them to be the earliest adopters. By experiencing the benefits for themselves, they are more likely to be supportive of their own team's enthusiasm.

2. Offer incentives

The cycle to work scheme is a fantastic way to incentivise staff to improve their lifestyle. Not only is cycling a great way to get fit, but often stress levels benefit from a commute that enables the rider to avoid congested roads.

Other incentives that are easy and inexpensive include providing fruit in the office, water coolers in every room and flexibility, where possible, so staff can start and finish early to get a gym session in.

Private healthcare is worth investigating too. When the worst happens, staff will be incredibly grateful that you have put in place a policy that fast tracks them to a bill of good health.

3. Celebrate staff success

I'm not suggesting that you congratulate Dave from IT for losing four pounds. I can't think of anything more mortifying. It would be great, though, if you can sponsor teams from the office who are taking part in a Tough Mudder challenge or individuals who are pushing themselves to do a half marathon to raise money for a cause close to their hearts. Then, on top of the financial support, share their success with their peers. This could be via monthly meetings, a quick email to all and/or your staff newsletter. It doesn't matter which medium you use. Just ensure their efforts are recognised and celebrated.

4. Provide facilities

It's great to promote fitness - but even better to provide the facilities staff need to incorporate exercise into their work-life balance. It's not an option for most SMEs to install a shower or changing rooms. However, you can do simple things like stocking the bathroom with deodorant and a full-length mirror so employees have the option to freshen up after cycling to work.

5. Encourage them to get it checked

Create an environment that encourages staff to go to the doctors or dentist if they are worried about anything. I know that in previous jobs I've put off going to the doctors because I couldn't get an early appointment and I didn't want to ask my boss for time off. However, I now realise this is ridiculous. Conscientious staff are at risk of prioritising work above their health and you need to protect them from themselves.

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