Understanding Health and Wellbeing Issues in the Workplace

Understanding Health and Wellbeing Issues in the Workplace


  • Date: Tuesday 26th February 2019
  • PDF: Download

We highlighted at the annual conference that mental health is a hot topic and is high on the HSE's agenda, alongside health and wellbeing.  The following glossary of terms provides an overview of health and wellbeing issues and topics you should be considering, and, where applicable, incorporating into your health and wellbeing strategy.

Wellbeing - Wellbeing is providing a state of comfort, health and happiness in the workplace.  It's not about just being happy and healthy.  Employees should feel a sense of excitement positive working relationships whilst being physically well and protected from risk.  Good levels of wellbeing amongst staff will boost productivity levels and reduce sickness absence.

Mental Health - A state of psychological and emotional wellbeing.  Mental health is often characterised by an individual's ability to cope with everyday life.  Common mental health problems include stress, anxiety or depression.

Stress - Stress is defined as the adverse reaction people have to pressures placed upon them at work.

Burnout - The physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress, this can be further exacerbated through unclear job expectations, poor work/life balance or difficult relationships.

Digital Burnout - Whilst laptops and mobiles provide great flexibility, too much screen time is making employees stressed and unable to switch off at the end of the day.  This results in burnout and can cause sleep problems, poor relationships and poor mental health.

Fatigue - Fatigue is the term used to describe a decline in mental and physical burnout and can be caused by working long working hours, monotonous tasks and prolonged exertion.  Fatigued employees can lead to lapses in concentration resulting in an increase in accidents and incidents and is the leading contributor towards presenteeism.

Presenteeism - Presenteeism is where workers come to work whilst physically or mentally ill.  Whilst employees might be physically present, they may not necessarily work safely or productively.

Leavism - The practice of using holiday allowance specifically to catch up on work.

Other issues to consider within your wellbeing strategy include arrangements for the management of;

Physical Health - Managing employees with physical health conditions.  Physical health conditions could be diabetes or asthma and could also include ill health and injuries that have arisen through a workplace activity or accident.

The Ageing Workforce - While older workers are generally less likely than younger workers to have occupational accidents, accidents involving them are likely to result in more serious injuries, permanent disabilities or death.  Older workers may experience more slips, trips and falls than younger workers, and recovery following an injury may take longer.

Smoking - British Heart Foundation estimate that cigarette breaks cost employers £1,815 per person per year.  Whilst not a legal responsibility, employees should be encouraged to stop smoking and supported in pursuing healthier lifestyles.

Drugs & Alcohol - Misuse of drugs and alcohol can present serious issues both in and outside of the workplace.  A wellbeing strategy should incorporate policies and procedures for supporting employees with drug or alcohol problems.

If you would like any further information on the above, please do not hesitate to contact our membership team on 01752 201616.

Source: Gemma McDonald, SSG


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