New workplace toolkit to help employers turn around £60 billion annual cost to UK taxpayer due to ill health

Posted: Fri, 09 Mar 2018 11:59

#HealthierWorkplaces @BITCWellbeing @PHE_uk

Business in the Community (BITC) in association with Public Health England (PHE) launches a new Physical Activity, Healthy Eating and Healthier Weight Toolkit for employers.

The toolkit is part of a suite of employer-focused support and guidance that brings together evidence-based research and practical actions that can help support a healthier workforce, whatever the size of the business, or the sector it belongs to.

This latest one includes tips on how to encourage physical exercise and healthy eating in the workplace and how to create an environment that fosters this healthier thinking and action through more knowledge and training at all levels.

A lack of physical activity and poor eating habits leads to an unhealthy workforce. Around a third of adults in England are damaging their health through a lack of physical activity1. In fact, one in four women and one in five men in England are defined as inactive, doing less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.2 This is costing the UK taxpayer over £60 billion per year3. Lack of physical activity also significantly raises the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders, which are the biggest cause of absence from work.4

Employers have a responsibility to provide safe workplaces that do not damage an employee's health and environments that support healthier lifestyle choices. Working in partnership with employees, employers can take a positive, proactive, preventative approach to support weight management and encourage greater physical activity.

Healthy employees drive a healthy business and a healthier workforce can be more productive, take less time off sick and stay in employment for longer.5 Greater physical activity, healthy eating and achieving a healthier weight are critical strands of wellbeing and a contributing factor for a healthier and more productive workforce.

Good physical health is closely linked to good mental health and initiatives designed to encourage physical activity and healthy eating should focus on mental health as well as physical health.

The toolkit joins the Business in the Community (BITC) and Public Health England (PHE) toolkit suite which takes a whole person approach to health and wellbeing, consolidating the best evidence, freely available resources and employer case studies.

It includes a checklist of actions for employers to take, under the broad themes of being prepared, encouraging physical exercise and healthy eating, and providing knowledge and training.

Creating an understanding environment, where employees can be open with their managers about any weight management issues that could be hampering them at work, is central to the toolkit.

Dr Justin Varney, National Lead for Adult Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, said:

"A vibrant business needs a healthy workforce. What we eat and how active we are has a profound affect on how we feel and perform. This toolkit responds to employers requests for advice on how to keep their teams active, eating well, and to create a workplace environment that encourages healthier living."

Shift work, in particular, is associated with increased body mass index, prevalence of obesity and other health problems.6 People who work shifts sometimes skip meals, eat irregularly, eat unhealthy food, and may find it hard to keep up a regular exercise schedule. Providing healthier food and drink in the workplace does not necessarily mean a higher cost than less healthy options.7

Business in the Community Wellbeing Director, Louise Aston commented:

"Employers have a duty of care in supporting the health and well-being of their people. A healthy workplace environment, management support and the provision of attractive, healthy choices, conducive to physical activity, healthier eating and weight management should be integrated into well-being programmes that take a whole person approach. Initiatives don't need to be costly and can include walking to meetings, bike storage facilities, the provision of food storage and preparation facilities or providing healthy food options."

To download the latest interactive digital Physical Activity, Healthy Eating and Healthier Weight Toolkit for employers and start taking practical actions to support your employees achieve good health use the link below and for more information about how Workplace Challenge can help your workplace to move more why not check out our manifesto?

Tags: Health, Workplace, Health At Work, Toolkit