Susan Gee: Workplace health strategies are not rocket science

Improving workplace wellbeing is about enabling employees to maximise their personal resource and, in particular, to create a good work-life balance.

Susan Gee

Creating an organisational structure that enables employees to flourish and take pride in what they do is not rocket science, but it requires employers to be structured and committed in their approach.

Employers should adopt a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, supporting employees to function to the best of their abilities, both as individuals and in collaboration with their colleagues.

We are proactive rather than reactive to health issues faced by employees, focus on the prevention of injuries and illnesses, and effectively manage an employee’s return to work after a period of absence.

Employee wellbeing strategy

Our employee wellbeing strategy focuses on three main areas: health and safety, management of ill-health, and prevention and promotion.

Initiatives in the health and safety area are driven by government policy and shaped by statutory requirements such as the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), while management of ill-health helps employees’ rehabilitation back into work, supporting those with chronic health conditions and long-term disability to remain at work.

Elsewhere, prevention and promotion identifies health risks in the workplace and health promotion campaigns, which acknowledge public health issues that impact on health in the organisation. 

Key themes

The key themes that are integral to the success of wellbeing at work are a result of having an organisational commitment to improving the health of the workforce, involving employees in the decision-making processes and developing a working culture that is based on partnership and trust.

Organising work tasks and practices so that employees contribute to, rather than damage, health, and implementing policies and practices that enhance employee health by making safe and healthy choices easy, help to create a healthy workforce.

Senior management commitment, as well as supervisory support and leadership, is also of major importance in securing the engagement and participation of employees in their wellbeing strategy.

It is essential that senior management support for wellbeing is visible and genuine, as there is evidence that this, coupled with exemplary leadership behaviour, enhances the commitment and participation of employees.

Susan Gee is occupational health and employee wellbeing manager at Yorkshire Water