The England Wellbeing Charter – encouraging workplace health

The England Workplace Wellbeing Charter is a set of entirely voluntary workplace standards to promote good, safe and healthy work. By getting involved in the charter, employers are demonstrating their commitment to the health and wellbeing of the people working for them. It provides a simple, structured way to establish organisations’ strengths and weaknesses in terms of health and wellbeing, and ways to move forward.

The standards are split into three levels because the charter recognises that smaller employers may find it hard to achieve the same level of activity as larger employers:

–          Commitment: this demonstrates a real commitment by small organisations.

–          Achievement: good achievement for medium-sized organisations.

–          Excellence: the level that large organisations should strive for.

The assessment is grouped into eight areas of activity offering suggestions under each of the three levels:

–          Leadership: e.g. is equality guidance and legislation in place; are effective policies in place to manage disciplinary and grievance procedures; is work-life balance embedded within the organisation’s conditions of employment?

–          Attendance management: e.g. are absence rates and causes collected and monitored, are documented return-to-work procedures in place and followed?

–          Health and safety requirements: e.g. are all staff informed of workplace risks and controls in place to minimise them; are relevant policies and procedures in place to demonstrate compliance with health and safety legislation; have all managers received appropriate health and safety training?

–          Mental health and wellbeing: e.g. do employers provide information to employees about mental health and wellbeing and make sources of further information readily available to staff at all levels; are bullying, harassment and whistle-blowing policies and systems in place and are staff at all levels made aware of them?

–          Smoking and tobacco control: e.g. are all staff aware of the smoke-free and tobacco control laws and how they are applied in their workplace?

–          Physical activity: e.g. is information made available on the benefits of physical exercise; are staff encouraged to take regular breaks?

–          Healthy eating: e.g. does the organisation actively promote healthy food options; do all staff have access to fresh drinking water?

–          Alcohol and substance misuse: e.g. are employees supported in seeking help to treat alcohol or substance misuse issues; are employees made aware of the link between alcohol/substance misuse and stress in the workplace?

Do you need help managing health and wellbeing in the workplace? The Health for Work Adviceline (0800 0 77 88 44 – www.health4work.nhs.uk) can give you professional advice from qualified occupational health nurses on health and work-related issues. By taking simple steps, organisations can reduce levels of sickness and absenteeism, retain staff more effectively, attract better staff, and maintain the health of staff as they grow older (an issue that is becoming increasingly important with our ageing population). Healthier employees will be happier, and organisations that look after their employees will experience less sickness absence, increased productivity and staff loyalty, and, ultimately, a healthier bottom line.

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