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Wellbeing should be on a par with health and safety, says BSC

For World Wellbeing Week, employers are being urged to make wellbeing as important as health and safety.

The plea, made by Peter McGettrick, chairman of the British Safety Council (BSC), comes as data released by the BSC found that despite the pandemic, employers still remain uncommitted to wellbeing.

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Nearly a third (32%) of employees it asked believe their employer is ‘not particularly’ or ‘not at all’ committed to wellbeing.

Only 42% agreed their employer is committed to wellbeing.

Ranjit Kirton, founder of The Behaviour Garage, told HR magazine that leaders should be role-models of positive wellbeing.

She said: “We already know that around 25% of all sickness absence in the NHS is caused by mental and psychological sickness, at a cost to the NHS of more than £2 billion per year.

“Only by promoting wellbeing and creating better psychological safety can leaders transform businesses. It’s only when organisations live and breathe this everyday, that they will grow.”

According to the BSC, aspects that impact most on people’s wellbeing include the cost of living (from 59% of respondents), to workload pressures (17%); the impacts of staff shortages (13%) and the challenges of balancing a hybrid work lifestyle (11%).

Yashmi Pujara, is chief HR officer at Mumbai-based Cactus Communications which is ranked top 15 for health and wellness by Great Places to Work. 

Speaking to HR magazine about her company’s ethos, Pujara said: “Wellbeing is now so key for us, that we’ve recently put 40 leaders through conscious entrepreneurship training, because we believe it’s how we grow our business that matters – which means doing it without having employees who suffer from being burned out.”

Some firms taking wellbeing seriously have started to look at the new ISO standard, 45003, which looks at psychological safety in the workplace.

It builds on ISO 45001, which is around managing health and safety risks in the workplace. 

Said BSC’s McGettrick added: “Employers should adopt a holistic approach to health, safety and wellbeing, as we know they affect each other.” 

He added: “When people are stressed or suffer poor mental health, they are also much more likely to have accidents or injure themselves. Likewise, someone who is unwell or recovering from something, they can often find their wellbeing suffers as a result.”

The BSC’s findings follow the launch of its Keep Thriving campaign, which is calling on both employers and government to act to improve people’s wellbeing. As part of the campaign BSC is urging employers to appoint an executive director responsible for wellbeing. It also wants employers to adopt a more holistic approach to employee wellbeing.

When pitched to parliament MP Rosena Allin-Khan, said: “Campaigns like Keep Thriving not only help break down the stigma of mental illness in the workplace but show employers how a few simple changes can really benefit the wellbeing of their employees.

"For too long, people have had to hide their poor mental health, at work. We need to work together to make this a thing of the past.”