Need to know

09 March 2016

Three big health stories from recent weeks – and how they affect small businesses.


Employees’ financial worries may be harming business, says report

Why has this been in the news recently?

A report by the Social Market Foundation and employee benefits provider Neyber found that one in eight (13%) workers say money worries hinder concentration1, and nearly a quarter (24%) are just about managing financially2. Such stresses could be having an impact not only on people personally, but on the productivity of the UK as a whole3.

Why is this an issue for my small business?

To get the best performance out of employees, the report suggests that employers should help staff reduce stress levels. It gives examples of novel (and expensive) ways of attempting to engage employees with the aim of improving physical and mental health: nap pods, allowing people to bring pets to the office, exercise classes and the like. But it also acknowledges that, “for smaller employers, these benefits may be beyond reach, out of budget or unsustainable with a relatively small number of employees.”

What all employers can do though is to help staff improve their financial wellbeing as a way of reducing stress. Some practical, simple changes it suggests are:

  • printing a recommended monthly savings goals on payslips

  • offering budgeting applications alongside online payroll services

  • directing staff to online financial aggregator platforms, which help consumers to see all their financial assets and obligations in one place and to track their spending.4

Read the report



Why a wellbeing strategy is important for your business

Why has this been in the news recently?

The way the world of work has changed means the business case for having a wellbeing strategy has never been stronger5,6, according to a report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. It found that the importance of looking after your staff’s mental and physical wellbeing is well acknowledged among employers (mainly because it helps to reduce absence, which costs employers money). However employers could actively do more about it7.

That’s all very well for big businesses with the budget to offer wellbeing programmes, but what about small organisations that don’t?

The report says, “there is no reason why a wellbeing strategy cannot be linked to the employer’s corporate strategy and based closely on the specific needs of the organisation and its workforce8.”

This is about strategy and training rather than costly programmes. Bupa’s medical director Steve Iley wrote about simple approaches to a health and wellbeing strategy, that don’t need to cost the earth, last month.

Read the report



Sitting down and the link with type 2 diabetes

Why has this been in the news recently?

Researchers in the Netherlands studied the effects of sedentary behaviour on type 2 diabetes risk. Their study found that people with type 2 diabetes spend longer sitting or lying down – by about 26 minutes per day.9 It doesn’t prove that sitting gives you diabetes, but it does add to the evidence that inactivity may not be good for health.

What are the take-away points for small businesses?

  • It’s easy to say that employers should encourage employees to be active, but with minimal resources and time, not all small businesses can afford to subsidise gym membership, for example. For small business owners, low-cost alternatives could be:
    • encouraging staff to go for a walk at break times
    • flexible working
    • having meetings outside when the weather is good
    • introducing a Cycle to Work scheme
  • Our Health Assessments could help your employees take stock of their health and fitness and make positive, sustainable changes.
  • On a related note, read what Bupa dietitian Lindsey Milligan has to say about healthy eating at work.


What's next?

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References

  1. Working Well: How employers can improve the wellbeing and productivity of their workforce, Social Market Foundation, page 25 http://www.smf.co.uk/publications/working-well-how-employers-can-improve-the-wellbeing-and-productivity-of-their-workforce/
  2. Working Well: How employers can improve the wellbeing and productivity of their workforce, Social Market Foundation, page 22 http://www.smf.co.uk/publications/working-well-how-employers-can-improve-the-wellbeing-and-productivity-of-their-workforce/
  3. Working Well: How employers can improve the wellbeing and productivity of their workforce, Social Market Foundation, page 8 http://www.smf.co.uk/publications/working-well-how-employers-can-improve-the-wellbeing-and-productivity-of-their-workforce/
  4. Working Well: How employers can improve the wellbeing and productivity of their workforce, Social Market Foundation, page 43 http://www.smf.co.uk/publications/working-well-how-employers-can-improve-the-wellbeing-and-productivity-of-their-workforce/
  5. Growing the health and well-being agenda: From first steps to full potential, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, page 11 https://www.cipd.co.uk/binaries/health-well-being-agenda_2016-first-steps-full-potential.pdf
  6. Growing the health and well-being agenda: From first steps to full potential, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, page 9 https://www.cipd.co.uk/binaries/health-well-being-agenda_2016-first-steps-full-potential.pdf
  7. Growing the health and well-being agenda: From first steps to full potential, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, page 16 https://www.cipd.co.uk/binaries/health-well-being-agenda_2016-first-steps-full-potential.pdf
  8. Growing the health and well-being agenda: From first steps to full potential, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, page 28 https://www.cipd.co.uk/binaries/health-well-being-agenda_2016-first-steps-full-potential.pdf
  9. “Just one hour of sitting down may increase diabetes risk by a fifth”, Behind the Headlines, NHS Choices http://www.nhs.uk/news/2016/02February/Pages/Just-one-hour-of-sitting-down-may-increase-diabetes-risk-by-a-fifth.aspx
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