Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Office health update

It wouldn't take an HR or health and safety expert to enumerate the many positive changes within the workplace which have occurred in the past 50 years.

Quite often, for instance, you'll be watching an old black and white movie and see people in the workplace, smoking at their desk. And it's pretty incredible to consider that this was once the norm. Seeing it on screen in this era though and the thought of a smoke filled workplace just kind of makes your skin crawl.

Other improvements in workplace health include more general things such as healthy eating which are often backed up by government campaigns designed to get people thinking about e.g. getting the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables in their daily diet. A lot of larger workplaces with in-house catering facilities will also place focus on serving up healthy meals or at the least have a healthy option for those who are aiming to have the most nutritious lunch they can.

Promoting workplace mental health is something that also would have to count as a big improvement - although there is still work to be done in this area. People are much more aware now though just how widespread things like stress can be - and how acknowledging it if it affects us doesn't mean weakness, rather the opposite. The days of the 'stiff upper lip' have gone. In fact a lot of organisations now offer employee assistance programmes which provide staff with support and help people manage when they find themselves in difficult circumstances such as bereavement or divorce.

Corporate health insurance is another health improvement - something that is offered by a great many more employers than in the past - it's also become something of recruitment tool that helps attract the best employees since it is a very popular benefit - with the added advantage of potentially reducing sickness absence within organisations.

In the health news this week it's been reported that open plan offices may not be the best for health and motivation. A couple of studies have been mentioned in the news reports, one of which suggests that people in this type of office have more sick days. This could be the case since it may be that a single open plan office with air conditioning could mean greater exposure to any cold and flu virus bacteria that are going around, although it has been pointed out that the survey had the respondents self-reporting days off - which would have been from memory and therefore subject to a higher level of inaccuracy than from written records.

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