The financial return for employers who actively promote workplace health could be up to five times their initial investment in terms of reduced absenteeism costs.
This is according to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), which recently launched a new Web portal on workplace health promotion containing a range of resources and advice for employers and workers.
The message behind the project is that workplace health promotion leads to better health, reduced absenteeism, enhanced motivation, and improved productivity. By encouraging workers to adopt healthy lifestyles, claims the Agency, employers will see a return on every Euro invested of between 2.5 and 4.8 Euros.
According to EU-OSHA director, Jukka Takala, “supporting a healthy lifestyle pays off for everyone. It benefits employees themselves and their employers, but it also helps the wider society, by reducing the burden on health-care systems. And, with an ageing working population, the importance of workplace health promotion schemes is only going to increase – we need to help people stay healthier for longer, and to achieve this we need employers and employees to work together, to create a healthy working culture.”
Programmes in place in various European organisations range from encouraging workers to improve their diet – for example, by including low-fat options in work canteens – to providing training for managers to recognise stress symptoms in their employees and take appropriate action.
The Agency highlights Dundee City Council, which has been working to improve the psychological and physical health of staff in its Social Work Department. Initiatives have been launched at an organisational level, such as family-friendly policies, and at an individual level, such as a confidential employee counselling service and subsidised slimming-club membership.
The scheme has already led to an improvement in the health of employees, says the Agency, with an estimated €165,000 being saved in sickness absence every year through a reduction in stress, anxiety and musculoskeletal problems.
EU-OSHA’s new web portal covers ways to create a supportive working environment by providing information, ideas and encouragement on health matters. The portal also includes good-practice resources, including two new factsheets (one for employers and one for employees), and useful links and case studies.
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