Employee Wellbeing - Winter health

Managing staff absence holiday during the winter months is problematic for organisations as it is often their busiest time of year. Many employees save their annual leave for the Christmas period and on top of this organisations are faced with increased sickness levels due to ailments such as coughs, colds, sore throats and winter flu. By understanding the patterns of absence in your organisation you will be able to plan for staff shortages during the busy period. Many organisation monitor days lost through sickness absence and the causes but very few record the patterns in absence. It is good practice to monitor and record when the absences take place, why and identify particular trends such as increased levels during major sporting events or during the winter months. By having a better understanding of absence you will be able to put preventative measures in place to ensure minimum impact on your business.

If you know that you have particularly high sickness levels due to colds and flu during the winter months, it may be worth investing in flu vaccinations for staff. Many organisations now offer flu vaccinations to reduce winter sickness, as it is relatively inexpensive option. Other concerns during the darker months are increased sickness levels due to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and higher stress levels. To keep staff on top form why not offer some simple training sessions on spotting the signs of stress and simple coping mechanisms to combat it before it becomes a more serious issue.

By creating a positive working environment for your employees you will not only be helping them improve their lives but will also be benefiting the business. Organisations who invest in the health and wellbeing of their workforce report up to £3 return on investment for each £1 spent.

Support employee health this winter by encouraging:

Regular exercise - This improves the blood flow, strengthens the heart, helps beat the bulge and increases the feel good hormone ‘endorphins’ that help lift our mood. Ideas can be as simple as a lunchtime walk to a team pedometer challenge.

Healthy eating – In the summer most people eat a healthy diet but when it comes to winter we want to tuck into something that is warm, filling and often full of calories. If you have a canteen you can offer some suggestions for healthy winter warming meals or get staff involved with a recipe share. Simple ideas are leek and potato soup or roasted vegetable pasta.

More light. – It is often the case that as the nights draw in many of us are leaving for work in the dark and returning home in the dark. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
is a type of winter depression that affects an estimated 7% of the population every winter between September and April; in particular during December, January and February.1 One of the simplest ways to improve mood during the dark months is to increase levels of vitamin D from the sunshine; start a lunchtime walking group, increase natural light into the office by keeping blinds open or invest in a light box for staff who suffer from the condition. Light boxes are becoming more popular within offices and are readily available on the Internet.

For further information on the services provided by Midlands Workplace Wellbeing Ltd please visit our website: www.mwwellbeing.co.uk or call 01202 987916.

1 As reported by Seasonal Affective Disorder Association - http:www.sada.org.uk/

BlogRenee Clarke