What do you think makes a healthy workplace? Are there things at your workplace that you think are good or bad for your general health?
If you are an employer, what steps do you take to create a healthy workplace for your employees?
A relaxed atmosphere and flexible working hours can be healthy. I think there isn't enough research and factual information about the ill affects of things like poor lighting, poor seating, poor air conditioning, poor heat control, lack of fresh air, etc.
To Ken; I'm not sure about flexibility, this can upset the rhythm of a work place, people need to have set hours, a regime.
Ill effects of Bad conditions is definitely happening in Computer rooms, which most of us use. I experience all that you say,
Thanks for mention them.
We have installed air sensitization systems to improve the quality of air everyone in the workplace is breathing. We are surprised to have noticed this is reducing staff absenteeism due to staff breathing clean air.
I know what makes it stressful - open spaces. I hate it You can hear peoples chewing gums, smell their perfumes and have no privacy.
How to make it less stressful? My recipe is to treat every employee with respect; everyone's job is important, not only the boss's. Also work and family live balance, like let your employees to make a private phone call and if they need to leave to see a doctor or child's assembly, let them do it. They can stay longer another day.
More opportunties to relax and move about such as lunch areas with games such as table football, outside
areas to sit and walk, access to gyms or other forms of exercise like swimming
The clothing factories I worked in the 50;60s had no safety rules and the toilets leaved a lot to be desired Hopefully things have changed ?
I had the same experience, over that period and into the 70's. The strange thing is that most of us were Happy and few accidents happened. Was this due to the commonsense of the workforce and the owners, plus a natural ability to solve problems and carry on! .
There were less accidents because there were less "accident lawyers".
I think natural light and fresh air are essential. I worked in open-plan for eighteen years and it was dreadful to start with until people learnt to behave in the right way - i.e. not trying to conduct a conversation at a distance! Hot desking sounds a bad idea; one's desk is part of one's office life. People should take frequent breaks from sitting at computers, and they should have the right seating, i.e. appropriate for each person's height and leg length etc. Consideration and courtesy for others are essential to make a healthy workplace.
Poor working environment:
Unrealistic target driven approach to front-line and low paid staff (usually), where staff have no control of unrealistic targets forced on them - staff are often monitored through some confusing and 'difficult' IT programme.
Many/most targets cause huge stress on all workers, especially older workers.
Targets are usually created by people who are unconnected with the actual work carried out by staff, and who do not have concern for workers' health and mental health.
It is not surprising so many people are suffering from anxiety and depression as a result!
'Hot desking' ...this makes it difficult to work effectively, especially when there is often not enough space/desks for all staff looking for somewhere to work.
Good working practice:
Enabling and empowering staff, including regular consultations/meetings and truly listening to staff suggestions and observation, and creating a positive, enjoyable working environment.
Good pay and conditions, and encouragement to join a trade union, and then opening a good and effective dialogue with staff via their union. Staff must be able to express their concerns without worrying about repercussions and reprisals.
I hate hot desks. People need own space, even if it is in huge noisy open space (all hot desks are), people like to have personal touch to their working area: a picture, a Christmas decoration. It's good for our mental health to leave your job at workplace for example by leaving your notes in the office. Perhaps employers with hot desk could provide some personal closets to keep your stuff. And they definitely should care more about cleanness of multi-use equipment - telephone handles, mouses, keyboards should be cleaned and disinfected everyday.
Attitudes and facilities which encourage cycling to work have helped healthy workspaces which I have been in - like a supportive employer, secure parking, shower facilities for hot days, etc.
Encouraging screen breaks and taking lunch breaks! Working the contracted hours etc, end the culture of unrewarded overtime. Not making staff feel unable to take time off for docs appointments etc. Im now a freelance and on zero hours/fixed term contracts. I love what I do and the freedom/variety and i earn more this way....however, you work all the time because your paranoid it'll dry up, you don't go sick because you don't get paid. Employment law regarding zero hours needs changing, sick pay should be acrued like holiday pay. Most what were perm jobs in the media are now done by fixed term/freelance. Why on earth the UK government cannot address this is beyond me. Heaven forbid you get asked to do jury service etc....
Natural light and clean air is a must! The perpetual freezing/boiling via bad air con. Too many shiney award winning glass box offices that are miserable to work in. No time spent on the people who will be spending 8+ hours a day there, just focused on the facade. Open plan offices are mostly awful with constant disruption, no privacy etc. Hot desking is great for freelancers if the IT is up to it..ie it actually works! I prefer to see perm staff nested in their own space, easy to identify and find, nick nacks toys photos etc show they have a personality!. Plants and garden atriums etc are lovely, just really improves an environment. I think councils should do more 'no warning heath and safety checks. I've worked at 'offices' that always broke the laws or on high risk but never were fined, they just got away with it by lying/hiding or pretending no one (temps of course) worked in certain areas of the building.
Flexi home working for ALL who can and want too. Its the way forward...unless wages are going to double in London to afford the rents? Something has to give. Remote working is in the realms of possibilty for desk monkeys. Im barley hanging on now. Biggest stresser is not earning enough to live.
Thanks everyone for sharing your views so far.
Many employers offer benefits or activities to encourage good health, like discounted gym membership, sports clubs, dietary advice or other activities.
Do you take part in these? If so, what do you think of them?
If they're currently not provided, would you take part if they were?
How about those who are self-employed? What steps do you take to ensure good health at work?
I agree the environment, leadership and access to activities that promote wellbeing are key to healthy workplaces.
We will be exploring this at the Health Foundry on the 27th November as we want to improve the emotional wellbeing of the workplaces around us.....I will post an invite once the flyers are created.
It would be great to carry on the debate with employers face to face.
Today, "Thriving at Work" was published. This independent review was commissioned by the government and sets out what employers can do to better support all employees, including those with mental health problems to remain in and thrive through work.
The recommendations to employers include:
- Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan;
- Develop mental health awareness among employees;
- Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling;
- Provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work life balance and opportunities for development;
- Promote effective people management through line managers and supervisors;
- Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.
You can read more about the review here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/thriving-at-work-a-review-of-...
Does your employer have an occupational health team, or member of staff responsible for keeping people well at work?
If so, what types of issue would you go to them with?