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March 24, 2015

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Looking after your major asset

I am always personally amazed at the term “Human Resources”  and how most major corporations now-a-days have a Human Resources department.

I am assuming this is because the people who work in an organisation are believed to be the asset of the company, turning those financial wheels that keep the company in healthy profit. The terminology reduces staff to a commodity rather than the social and creative beings that we are, and I think the term loses something of the human quality that the old fashioned Personnel Department encompassed so succinctly.

But let us assume for just a minute that we are the asset of the company. We belong to the corporate entity. We are a cog that turns other cogs to power the machine – isn’t it amazing, therefore, that our underlying health and energy is often just not part of the agenda in many companies?  Wellbeing is seen as ‘fluffy’, nice to have and frankly just a little bit girly (nobody would actually admit that – but I actually heard someone say that to an MD who had introduced a programme to tackle obesity within his company).

It’s not serious strategy – if a wellness programme is in place, it’s under employee benefit rather than something that is run throughout the company as policy/strategy.  It’s like owning a building (your asset) and then not ever maintaining the building over an number of years and finding down the line that it’s not fit for purpose.  Why would you do that?  Completely ignore your asset and then blame them for falling into “wrack and ruin!”  It’s your asset ! Why not look after it?

I am a nutritionist and have been involved with progressive companies over 15 years and have been trying to change how we view “wellness” in the corporate world.  Over the last five years I’ve noticed a sea change – especially within health and safety.  While safety quite rightly goes on being improved on, the health part has been largely ignored, but there are the buds of change as companies realise that wellness is about their people, but also about their bottom line.

As our society matures (in terms of not only what is the minimum we can do and are required to do by law, and what is the right thing to do as an employer), slowly companies are changing to see wellness not just as employee benefit but company strategy where they see that they need to look after their major asset – the people, individuals, personalities, humans that make up their corporate whole.

Kate CookKate Cook is a nutrition and wellness expert and an international speaker. She is also founder and director of the Harley Street clinic The Nutrition Coach. Her clients include the Bank of England, JP Morgan, Network Rail, Abellio, Skanska, Gardiner and Theobald, and EDF Energy.

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In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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