Promoting a healthy practice

Staying fit and healthy are essential to the delivery of effective management but how can practice managers support their teams facing extensive workload pressures? Richard Ellis, director at Connected Benefits, outlines key measures to stay fit, increase productivity and reduce absenteeism

Richard Ellis

Working in primary care can have a detrimental impact on your health! It’s no joke – those at the frontline of delivering healthcare can often suffer from health problems themselves. Workplace health and wellbeing is a significant challenge for those responsible for employees in GP practices; high patient demand, staff shortages and increased workloads all have an impact on your team’s physical and mental health.

At this time of year the pressures are even greater with cold weather making surgeries even busier. On top of this, your staff have to deal with ill, contagious people day-in-day out; staying fit and healthy themselves becomes an even bigger challenge.

Promoting healthy workplaces

With all of this in mind it makes sense to look at affordable and easy ways to promote health and wellbeing in the workplace. Little steps, like those outlined below, can make a big difference. No doubt many of your team will have started 2017 with New Year’s Resolutions to stop smoking, lose weight and get fit. You can help those employees, and encourage others to take action, by supporting them with incentives in the workplace. By making a few small changes in the workplace you can increase your teams’ success when it comes to their resolutions and have a positive impact on productivity, absenteeism and employee retention.

Healthy employees = increased productivity and reduced absenteeism

Here are a few simple, low cost ways that you can help your practice team feel better, look better, and do better:

  1. Evaluate your snacks – If your practice staffroom has a large tin of biscuits by the kettle it’s time to replace these with healthier alternatives. Provide fruit, veggies and wholegrain savoury options instead.
  1. Bike to work schemes – Programmes such as ‘Bikes for Staff’ allow workers to access tax free bicycles and accessories – all the employer has to do is sign up. With a scheme like this you can encourage your staff members to cycle to work, burning calories and saving money while they pedal.
  2. Gym memberships – You don’t have to have gym equipment in your workplace to help your team get fit and toned. Consider including a gym membership for staff scheme in your list of employee perks. Not only will the gesture help to attract new members of staff it will also help those whom you already employ stay in shape all year long.
  3. Help employees stop smoking – Many smokers use the new year as their impetus to quit smoking; they will need all the support they can get. It might help to survey staff to see how many want to stop smoking and ask them what you as an employer can do. Perhaps form a group just for practice staff and hold regular smoking cessation sessions. You may already run clinics for patients but your staff will appreciate a supportive group just for them.

By following just one or two of these ideas you can really have an impact on the health, vitality and wellbeing of your staff. In turn this will have a positive impact on employee retention issues such as sick leave and absenteeism, as well as helping staff cope with the demands of their jobs.

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