· News

Employee wellbeing the key to reducing sick leave, says TUC

Employers who maintain healthy workplaces can reduce staff absence and boost productivity, according to a TUC report published today.

The report, Work and Wellbeing, aims to promote healthier working and help union health and safety representatives identify causes of staff illness within their workplaces.

The TUC claims that every year around 170 million working days are lost because people are too poorly to go into work, with 23 million down to work-related ill health and four million the result of injuries suffered at work.

The report says the best method for improving the general wellbeing of a workforce is to change the way that work is organised and managed. For example, reducing workplace stress is far more useful than providing on-site massage for stressed employees, the TUC says.

Earlier this week, HR magazine reported that in 2012, the UK had some of the worst employee wellbeing scores in the world.

The TUC says that running exercise classes during lunch hours may prove popular with some employees, but employers need to ensure that workers have a proper lunch break in order to benefit.

It also states any lifestyle changes must be made available in a completely non-judgemental manner so that no-one feels any changes are being forced upon them.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Healthier lifestyles are something we should all be aspiring to, and given the amount of time we spend at work, the workplace is a good place to start.

"Work can create a lot of health issues such as back problems, and it can also be a cause of stress which is linked to the increased use of tobacco and alcohol.

"Similarly, if employees are sitting down all day and only have access to junk food during their lunch break then they have more chance of developing heart disease or diabetes in later life."

She added: "Far too many days a year are being lost through ill health. Sensible employers who are able to identify problems at an early stage, and who introduce changes to prevent ill health and promote wellbeing, will reduce sickness absence and increase productivity."