Globally, in developed and developing economies, there is a growing recognition of the importance of the health and wellbeing of employees to the success and reputation of businesses and their contribution to the wider economy.
It is self-evident that for each individual of working age, being sufficiently healthy is a condition for entering and maintaining work for as long as is necessary or possible. Indeed, maximising healthy working life is a desirable goal for individuals and society, everywhere.
There is compelling evidence that the conditions of work are themselves important and sometimes decisive factors in influencing both mental and physical health and wellbeing. Acknowledgement of these facts has brought challenges to employers and employees, opening new opportunities for their mutual benefit.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a healthy workplace as one in which employees and managers collaborate to use a continual improvement process to protect and promote the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and the sustainability of the workplace.
The challenges are to ensure good work and good organisational health; a workplace culture and practices that promote and support good physical and mental health; an emphasis on the responsibility of each individual for their personal health; enhanced personal resilience, recognised as one of the conditions that ultimately influences employee wellbeing and engagement; and managers who are trained in, and capable of, recognising and dealing with matters that affect employee health and wellbeing.
Dame Carol Black is expert adviser on health and work, Department of Health England, and chairperson of the Nuffield Trust