Centre for Organisational Health and Wellbeing calls for GPs and industry to work together
Front row from left: Professor Sue Cartwright, Director of the Centre for Organisational Health and Wellbeing, Professor Lennart Levi, member of the Sedish Parliament and Louise Aston Director, Business Action On Health , Business in the Community.
Centre for Organisational Health and Wellbeing calls for GPs and industry to work together to reduce effects of sickness in the workplace
More collaboration between workers, health professionals and industry is needed to underpin the efforts of employers to support workers who are ill and return them to work. This was one of the recommendations to come out of the first conference of Lancaster University’s Centre for Organisational Health and Wellbeing yesterday.
A sample of industry including the CBI, Business in the Community and a number of major employers including Tesco, Unilever, Nestle UK Ltd , Aviva and the National Police Improvement Agency, met with academics and Dame Carol Black to develop a business response to the government commissioned report authored by Dame Carol Black ‘Working for a Healthier Tomorrow’ and the Foresight report ‘Mental Capital and Well Being.’
Both reports were published in 2008 before the recession took hold, and businesses are keen to address the practical implications of the implementing the recommendations in a challenging economic environment.
Dame Carol Black said that it was vital that employers , GPs and the public better understood the positive links between health and work. Individuals can return to work even when not 100% fit, and work can aid their recovery. Employers must have sickness absence policies to enable an early return to work which aids sustained recovery, and a sick note may not be a good thing. A clear pathway of rehabilitation for work related ill-health is needed.
Professor Cary Cooper, lead scientist of the Foresight report on Mental Capital and Wellbeing, called for Business Schools to address the fact that line management had a critical role to play in reducing and managing stress and lack of wellbeing in the workplace .
“Some Business Schools are very good at training managers in technical aspects of management for example marketing and finance, but pay less attention to people skills, even though the costs to the employer for bad management are significant. We know that line management style has a considerable impact on employees’ health and wellbeing in the workplace, and we need to address this in our management curriculum.”
Lancaster University’s new Centre for Organisational Health and Wellbeing was launched in May 2009 and is supported by a board of twelve private and public companies which help inform the research by debating the big issues around organisational health and wellbeing. The Centre aims to research on how to integrate many aspects of mental and physical health into work and the work environment. Current projects are being conducted in the area of employee engagement, absenteeism at work, leadership and health , and the effectiveness of health promotion initiatives.
Nestle, Unilever, Tesco, North Lancashire PCT, National Policing Improvement Agency, Manchester City Council, Shell, Northumbrian Water, GlaxoSmithKline, Astra Zeneca, the Cabinet Office and Npower have signed up to support the Centre.
- Around 175 million working days are lost to sickness absence each year ( CBI)
- Overall costs of sickness absence and heath related worklessness among those of working age exceed £100 billion per year, equivalent to the GNP of Portugal and more that the annual NHS budget.
- Total costs to the tax payer in terms of benefits and forgone tax revenue are over £60 billion per year.
- Loss of productivity for those who are ill but still in work is likely to be even greater – estimated cost due to mental-ill health alone is £15 Billion a year ( Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health).
- Direct costs of incapacity benefits are £12.5 billion a year, £40% of which is due to stress and mental ill health.