Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Why we 'do' Wellbeing, and so should you

Physiotherapists warn that 'screen slaving' sees workers putting their health at risk

From the Communication Workers Union mailout, 28 August 2012:

"Physiotherapists have warned that spending long hours in front of a screen presents serious posture and stress dangers.

A new survey for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) reveals that UK office workers are putting their mental and physical health at risk by working more than two hours extra each night on their commute and at home.

About two-thirds (64%) of the 2,010 office workers polled by the CSP said they continued working on smartphones and other devices after they left the office, and spent an average of 2 hours 18 minutes doing so.

This was on top of an average of 6 hours 22 minutes in front of a screen in the office during their regular working day.

The biggest reasons given for doing extra work were to 'ease the pressure of the working day' (35%) and having 'too much work to do' (33%).

While 29% of people surveyed said additional work at home helped reduce their overall stress levels, a worrying 24% wanted to be offered counseling services for stress. 

The survey revealed 53% of those who work at home out of office hours said this had increased in the past two years, but of these people just 8% said their boss was trying to do anything about it.

Physiotherapists are concerned that 'over working' is storing up both physical and mental health problems for the future - particularly since 66% of those surveyed reported suffering job-related ill health such as headaches and back pain.

The CSP is concerned that poor posture when using smartphones and other mobile devices can lead to back and neck pain.
Fewer than one in four people surveyed said that they considered their posture when looking at screens outside of work. Long hours can also contribute to stress-related illness.

The results were released to coincide with the CSP's Workout at Work campaign which encourages people across the UK to be more physically active in order to combat stress and avoid musculoskeletal disorders like back pain.

In June this year, 300 physiotherapists went into workplaces across the UK to demonstrate easy, low-cost ways for employers to help their staff lead healthier lives.

The CSP are urging employers to be more aware of the need to keep their staff healthy and to encourage better working habits among staff.

 Simple low cost measures include:

·         Encouraging staff to report any concerns about their health at an early stage
·         Encouraging staff to take regular breaks and be physically active during lunchtimes
·         Displaying leaflets and posters promoting good posture, health advice and activities for staff
·         Arranging and supporting activities that help staff to get active, like lunchtime walking clubs
·         Creating links with local gyms and clubs
·         Implementing a Cycle to Work scheme and taking advantage of a tax exemption enabling you to loan to staff cycles and cycling equipment as a tax-free benefit
·         Encouraging active travel to and from work e.g. cycling, walking and running
·         Encouraging workstation assessments to reduce and treat musculoskeletal disorders
·         Access to physiotherapy, fitness classes and ergonomically-designed chairs were three services that many workers in the survey said they would like their employer to pay for.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), said that the results of the survey are a huge concern to physiotherapists, who see the consequences of poor posture and bad working practices each day. While doing a bit of extra work at home may seem like a good short-term fix, if it becomes a regular part of the evening routine then it can lead to problems such as back and neck problems, as well as stress-related illness. This is especially the case if people are using handheld devices and not thinking about posture. CSP want to raise awareness of how important it is to look after your mental and physical health to ensure a good work/life balance and want more employers to do a lot more to improve the health of the nation's workforce.

The CSP has produced a new free leaflet in association with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) called 'Under Pressure'. This looks at the link between physical activity and mental wellbeing, with advice on staying happy and healthy at work. 

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said that Employers should be concerned if staff are regularly taking work home with them and finding it hard to switch off and re-charge. While a level of pressure is of course an essential part of working life, evidence suggests that prolonged exposure to excessive pressure - i.e. stress - is linked to conditions such as anxiety, depression and heart disease. 

Managers should be asking staff regularly about their workload to ensure people's health does not suffer. In addition, it is in employers' interests to work with staff to support their wellbeing. For example, regular exercise is proven to be one of the best ways of both preventing and managing stress. There are many low-cost and no-cost ways of
encouraging employees' interest in building activity into their working day such as participation in work sports teams, walking groups, on-site exercise
classes and subsidised gym membership."


Wellbeing at work is huge. Enormous. You ignore it at your peril, and other scary statements. 

But why not make caring about it a benefit of working for you, something that defines how you work? Defines not what you do, but how you do it?

Our approach focuses on the 'low or no cost' ways to care for employees' wellbeing. It always will. Throwing cash at a problem rarely addresses the root causes. We believe in making the most of the resources you have to create something that really belongs to you and your people, not buying in an often ridiculously-expensive, ready-made package from people who haven't listened to what you actually need at all.

It's modular too, so you work with what suits your business, and will deliver the best results for you.

The results are unquestionable, if often immeasurable- sickness absence drops, loyalty rises, and there's a tangible energy shift amongst teams when they feel cared for and they contribute more. It fosters an atmosphere of collaboration- we see less disputes, better communication and a more ready willingness to support one another in good times and bad. It can lift both physical and mental wellbeing.

We're really proud of what we do. (Can you tell?) What's even better is seeing others get proud too.

Not all business owners like it when we are honest and say the impact is in many ways immeasurable. Sure, you can measure sickness absence and the number of grievances raised each year. The rest is often harder to define: it's a feeling, it's an experience, a different conversation with an employee or colleague. It's getting that sense that someone's really enjoying working for and with you, because they feel that they matter. It's the smile on your face when a colleague thanks you for a small kindness that cost very little and you really thought nothing of... but that lifted a stress from their shoulders or enabled them to feel healthier and more connected to things.

It's all the little things that make a great place to work.

And anyway, as we often say... not everything that counts can be counted.

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