Healthy environment

Why healthy workspaces are important - a GP's view

10 June 2016

Dr Jenny Napier - a Westminster GP and founder of Contextualyse - tells us why we need to think more about health in the workplace.

 

How can we best look after the health of adults in our society? This important question needs to be considered by each of us when we think about our own lives, but we also need to consider it as employers, colleagues and citizens. If we want to live satisfying and healthy lives, we need to make sure that we are taking active steps to protect and support the wellbeing of ourselves and those around us. As we spend a significant proportion of our waking hours at work, the workplace deserves particular attention.

We are becoming more aware of the crucial importance of work in supporting health, and of how wellbeing in turn supports effective work. Research is pointing the way to core aspects of a health-sustaining and protecting workplace: supportive line management, clear leadership and job clarity, work-life balance, opportunities for participation in decision-making and autonomy in getting on with one’s work. 

Workplace wellbeing charters are one way for employers to show their commitment to the wellbeing of their workforce. In London we have the London Healthy Workplace Charter. This offers a flexible framework that can be translated into organisations of all sizes and types, and comes with plenty of help from the Charter team.

As a GP myself, I would like to see practices taking the health and wellbeing of their own teams seriously. As professionals whose purpose is to defend and support health, we are role models, not only as individuals, but also as organisations. The charter would enable us to model good organisational practice.

A real challenge exists for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to look after their employees as they lack the infrastructure and resources of larger organisations. General Practices, CCGs, and networks are examples of SMEs. So there is even more reason for us to model how SMEs can care for their staff’s health. The charter provides a free, effective way of taking clear action to look after ourselves and our teams. The Greater London Authority and Healthy London Partnership are working together to create innovative networks for cross-fertilisation of ideas, support and encouragement. There has never been a more important or better time to take your team’s wellbeing seriously!

 

Dr Jenny Napier is a Westminster GP and founder of Contextualyse. She consults, coaches and trains to support organisational wellbeing and productivity across all sectors.