Let’s Talk Health at Work

Let’s Talk Health at Work

My time with People Management magazine

I was honoured to be invited to Haymarket Publishing to take part in a round table discussion that appeared in the November issue of People Management magazine – the article is entitled CIPD Does HR understand Health?

I was one of eight people asked along to share my thoughts and experience of supporting health at work. The article describes us as ‘eight of the sharpest thinkers and practitioners in the field’. The full article can be accessed by clicking this link – CIPD Does HR understand Health?

Lots of people have asked me what it was like to take part in such a discussion, and the word ‘surreal’ springs to mind! I took a day out of the office to go to London and spend a couple of hours with seven others who I had never met before. I was sharing my opinions and experiences with Directors of national businesses and people who had won awards for their approach to managing wellbeing at work.

The round table discussion lasted for an hour, a photographer was constantly walking around the table taking pictures and someone else was filming the discussion, it was an interesting approach!

The agenda contained the following items:

  • Demographics – With more women, more older employees and more ill or disabled employees, are employers offering the right sort of benefits and tailoring their reward approach to take account of the reality of their workforce?
  • Cancer – Is the right sort of support in place for people with cancer and other life-changing illnesses? Is the return-to-work process being managed well enough, and how could it be improved?
  • Ageing – The age of the workforce continues to rise. But is unconscious bias still holding organisations back in the way they recruit and develop older employees?
  • Obesity and fitness – What can organisations do to improve employees’ general fitness levels, and where is it appropriate to draw the line?
  • Presenteeism – CIPD figures show presenteeism is at an all-time high. Does that show attempts to ‘crack down’ on absence are working? And at what wider cost to organisations?
  • Stress & mental health – Around one in six workers is currently experiencing a mental health condition: are organisations making the situation worse? Do HR professionals understand how to spot and handle the signs of stress?

We had an hour to discuss all of the above, so obviously we just scratched the surface of each topic before moving on to the next. It was a lively debate, and there is a lot that HR has to consider, but is it really just down to HR?

I honestly think line managers are best placed to notice if there are issues for individual employees, if they have a good relationship with their direct reports they will be able to openly discuss these issues, and if line managers are working in partnership with HR they will be able to offer effective support to theindividual.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of managers do not recognise the strengths that HR can offer to support them in carrying out their management function, sometimes line managers will try to pass responsibility for supporting their employees onto HR, and sometimes HR accept that responsibility without seeing the wider implications for themselves and the business.

I will look at each of these agenda items in further detail in future blogs as I really think they need to be explored more fully than an hour permits.

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