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November 3, 2008

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Minister preaches ‘good health is good business’ message

Investing in employees’ health and well-being is arguably more important for companies during a recession than in times of growth, the Health and safety minister has told European business leaders.

Lord McKenzie of Luton delivered the mantra at a conference of member companies and supporters of the Enterprise for Health network — which promotes workplace health initiatives — at GlaxoSmithKline’s London headquarters on 30 October.

He told delegates: “I am not an economist, and do not propose to offer a detailed analysis of the situation that confronts us across the globe. However, what I am able to say confidently is that, although the message may seem counter-intuitive, the current climate gives businesses even more reason to invest in health and well-being.”

The minister continued: “I realise that this message may not be at the top of businesses’ agenda right now. But there is a mounting body of evidence which shows that investing in the health and well-being of employees means spending in the short term to save money in the longer term.”

With the Government’s response to Dame Carol Black’s report on the health of Britain’s working-age population expected imminently, Lord McKenzie went on to describe a number of government initiatives aimed at supporting employees to stay in, or return to, work. These include a review of how the sickness certificate issued by GPs can be revamped into a ‘fit note’; plans to pilot an occupational health advice and support service for SMEs; and last week’s launch of the Employment and Support Allowance to get people off incapacity benefits and back into work.

Commenting on this last programme, the minister said: “It is even more important during an economic downturn that we increase our support, not take it away. This is a significant development, and one which I hope will help us move towards an 80-per-cent employment rate.”

His call for greater focus on health and well-being was backed by leading stress expert, Professor Cary Cooper, who warned that the fear of losing their job would see more sick people working when they should be off work.

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

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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