Keep staff fit with these employee wellbeing ideas

16th Aug 2017

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As a practice manager or healthcare manager, don’t you just dread the phone ringing and a member of staff calling in sick? You just know that what will probably been a busy, challenging day anyway, is going to be that much more difficult without a full team.

Of course, you can get bank staff or a locum in to provide cover, but that involves additional costs and it’s never the same as having your trusted team players on site.

While we can’t prevent staff from catching the odd bug, especially when working in healthcare, there are ways to help them build resilience; and if they do have a day or two off, bounce back much quicker.

Fit For Work Tips

We all know that having good overall fitness helps us to avoid injuries and fight infections and illness. This message is probably on posters or in literature displayed around your practice or hospital for the benefit of patients. Healthcare staff know that this applies to them too, but they often put other people’s needs in front of their own and don’t prioritise their own health and wellbeing.

So what can we do to encourage staff to look after themselves and keep fit? Here are a few ideas to boost employee wellbeing.

Increase uptake of the flu vaccine

Autumn is not far away and with it comes coughs, colds and the flu. Healthcare professionals are all entitled to a free flu vaccine, yet uptake can vary between different NHS Trusts and community providers.

To increase uptake the flu jab needs to be accessible, with regular clinics available for your staff and even mobile clinics to reach frontline staff on some sites. Peer vaccinators are also a successful tactic, someone visible within the team who staff can ask for the flu jab. They could also be incentivised to increase uptake with rewards and competitions for the most vaccinations.

Support smokers in quitting

Sickness absence is one third higher for smokers than non-smokers, and they are also more likely to be absent for longer due to ill health – UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies.

Introducing a smoking cessation programmes, including nicotine replacement therapy, has been proven to work at some trusts. Smokers are encouraged to sign up to the programme and receive vouchers to attend twice weekly clinics and receive nicotine replacement therapies over 6 months.  This case study on Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust provides some inspiration.

Challenge staff to be more active

Introducing some healthy competition to become more active is a great way to get everyone involved, and also create a culture of wellbeing. While you could devise your own challenges, rewards and methods of monitoring everyone’s activity, there are plenty of digital options that can make this easier to run.

The Healthia App is a great example of how gamification and rewards can be used to increase employee wellbeing. It also provides real time data on the health of your team, including activity levels and employees’ risk of developing disease. Healthia can also be integrated with employees’ existing fitness devices and apps – helping them get more use out of these too.

Access to Occupational Health

For many employees discussing their health issues with a manager is embarrassing. People don’t necessarily want to share personal information such as their struggle with weight loss or mental health issues. While managers can refer staff to Occupational Health for support, sometimes employees don’t access these services because of the process involved in getting that referral.

Self-referral is the answer, allowing staff to go directly to OH when they need help. Occupational Health professionals can then provide the support individuals need, often without their manager or colleagues needing to know, or help them talk to managers about their health problems by acting as an intermediary.

To successfully implement the ideas above programmes and incentives need to be communicated proactively to all staff. This can be done through marketing materials, communications such as email and social media, and by getting ambassadors from within the team to promote your incentives to other staff.

For more on how to increase take-up of health and wellbeing schemes click on this link to Connected Benefits' blog post - How to increase take-up with your employee incentive schemes

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