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Stephen Haynes

Stephen Haynes will be attending the Workplace Wellbeing and Stress Summit 2013.

Last weekend, I helped some friends move house. As I entered their new home, as you would expect, boxes were scattered all around and I couldn’t actually get to the kitchen without tripping or climbing over one of the many appliances. Then I couldn’t help but draw the parallel between kitchen appliances and workplace health.

Workplace health programmes can sometimes look like a house with kitchen appliances spread everywhere except the kitchen – and let alone integrated within the actual kitchen.

This year’s summit touches on many of the key areas of workplace health & wellbeing today. My personal favourites being creating sustainable programmes and the trends in sickness absence – but it is also forward thinking in getting us to consider the role recruitment plays in health & wellbeing – how can a person’s resilience influence the attraction and recruitment process?

Workplace health and wellbeing is no longer about initiatives, benefits or services, but the very fabric of every successful business, underpinning and permeating throughout the workplace and its people. As obvious as it sounds, we must take a step back and not only consider the immediate areas of interest to our workplace health programmes – whether this is lowering absence, tackling specific health conditions or controlling insured health costs – but how each tactic we adopt fits into our broader business goals.

In a few years-time, will we hear organisations asking, “What is our sickness absence policy?” Or will they be asking “What is our people/ wellbeing strategy?”

Our understanding of workplace health & wellness is constantly evolving. We are more switched on to the drivers and inhibitors of wellbeing – a few years ago, we were still wondering why our healthy X initiatives were not delivering returns or having long-term impact on lowering absence. Today, it is more widely accepted that workload, management style and change are greater influences of health, wellbeing, absence and engagement in the workplace – and that initiatives, benefits and services are important elements of a wider strategy.

People get ill and in many cases, we can predict these patterns in workplace populations so we can ensure the right services are in place to support these. The evolution of workplace health & wellness is in prevention through multiple controllable (and less-controllable) factors – from lifestyle to resilience, to fitness and nutrition.

This is a really exciting time for our collective industry – growth in workplace health & wellbeing is tremendous, most organisations today have at least one wellbeing initiative or benefit in place and next year will bring about numerous changes – from the Independent Assessment & Advisory Service that hopefully comes into place at the end of 2014, which will dramatically change the landscape, through to having more resource to manage as auto-enrolment begins to take up less time. For many, health and wellbeing is going to be the number one priority for 2014.

I love that we are constantly learning and there is so much knowledge and experience to share. So, I’m off to my nearest kitchen showroom for some ideas on integration!