Signing up to the health and wellbeing of employees

The Workplace Wellbeing Charter (the Charter) was launched in May 2010 and is a set of entirely voluntary workplace standards to promote good, safe and healthy work. The Charter provides a simple, structured way for organisations of any size and in any sector to:

  • establish their strengths and weaknesses in terms of health and wellbeing;
  • pinpoint ways to improve health and wellbeing practice;
  • demonstrate their commitment to the health and wellbeing of the workforce.

So what are the benefits of demonstrating commitment to employee health and wellbeing? It is generally accepted that healthy, happy employees will be more productive, committed and loyal to an organisation, which may well impact on an organisation’s bottom line. In addition, keeping the workforce healthy may reduce sickness absence levels and related costs, which makes good business sense. Furthermore, employers are obliged under law to protect the health of their staff so looking after the health and wellbeing of employees helps fulfil legislative responsibilities.

Employers can sign up to the Charter using a self-assessment form (to find out what they are already doing right and where they need to improve) and a registration form. Once they have registered, an informal chat with an assessor will permit organisations to ask any further questions and receive a portfolio to gather evidence. Once an employer has gathered all the necessary evidence an assessor will do a site visit to verify it and point out any other information that may be required before receiving the Charter Award, which lasts for two years.

The Charter focuses on three key areas:

  • Leadership:
    • For example, is there active support from senior management in the area of health and wellbeing (e.g. providing time and skills, developing an action plan, and monitoring and reviewing)?
  • Culture:
    • For example, is health and wellbeing embedded into the culture of the organisation, is the working environment a healthy one, and are staff made to feel valued and included?
  • Communication:
    • For example, is communication within the workplace effective and does it meet the needs of the workforce?

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 organisations:

  • 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.

Organisations that are committed to looking after the health and wellbeing of employees stand to gain in many ways (e.g. reduced levels of sickness absence, better staff retention, healthier and more productive staff, and improved staff morale and loyalty). For guidance on employee health issues along the way, organisations in England can contact the free Health for Work Adviceline.

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