High Levels of Sickness Absence? On Yer Bike!

Julie Duffy from Health@Work looks at the research into sickness absence

Posted by Julie Duffy

Health@work

Wed 22nd, Jul

Recent research into sickness absence found that direct costs of sickness absence, including statutory sick pay, cost of replacement staff and loss of output was estimated to generate a bill of £11.6 billion for the UK economy every year. The report also highlighted that the North West has the highest sickness absence rates of any other area in the UK. So what can employers do?

It’s been said that “If being active were a pill we would be rushing to prescribe it!” Indeed, if exercise were a pill we would not be able to manufacture it fast enough! A remedy that will boost your immune system, lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis? If I told you the same pill will also boost brain power; improving concentration and productivity, reduce depression, improve feelings of well-being and improve endurance and strength, without any negative side effects (or cost!), who would not want a piece of that?!

At a recent event organised by Liverpool & Sefton Chambers and health@work, over 40 local businesses had the opportunity to learn about the benefits of promoting physical activity in the workplace as well as practical advice on the support available. The following actions are just some of the things that businesses can do for little or no cost at all to start to embed physical activity into the ethos of their organisation:

  • Develop a physical activity policy and appoint a physical activity champion from your existing staff body to act as a source of support to colleagues
  • Provide information on the benefits of physical activity generally and more specifically during the working day
  • Set up a staff travel survey and produce a travel action plan with help from Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce 
  • Join the Merseytravel Employers Network and get free resources to encourage active travel as well as information on grant schemes for workplace improvements.
  • Investigate cycle to work schemes through Giant Liverpool and Cycle Scheme
  • Establish fun workplace challenges and incentivise physical activity
  • Promote upcoming events, like Race for Life, Santa Dash etc and display walking and cycling routes
  • Explore flexible working options to make it easier for staff to be physically active during the day

 

The Workplace Wellbeing Charter is now a nationally recognised award endorsed by Public Health England and a fantastic starting point for anyone wishing to improve workplace health. The City Council would like to see every business across Liverpool accredited with the Charter and are willing to fund 120 organisations to take part this year. If you would like to be one of them, give health@work a call 0151 236 6608.

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