The pandemic has put occupational health in the spotlight, and on the workplace health front line, more than ever. As we emerge into a post-pandemic ‘new normal’, now is the time for practitioners to be proactively promoting their expertise to employers who have not yet ‘got it’ about OH, argues Kevin Huffington.
Covid-19 has certainly changed the way we all live and work and, with lockdown restrictions easing and a ‘new normal’ emerging, more focus than ever is being placed on long-term health and wellbeing by working age people.
Grasping the ‘Covid opportunity’
For employers, this is an important development and certainly one of the legacies Covid will leave. After all, a large proportion of our lives is spent at work and therefore maintaining good health and wellbeing in the workplace will play a vital part in achieving an overall healthier way of life.
Greater emphasis on mental health
For a long time, businesses have of course been required to comply with health and safety legislation and many have recognised the value in providing healthy environments in which employees can work, in order to retain staff, increase productivity and ultimately deliver a positive impact on the bottom line.
However, a greater emphasis on workplace health and wellbeing will now be in the minds of employees themselves.
In the short term, that emphasis may be closely linked to Covid-19 and the need to work and interact with colleagues in a safe manner.
Creating Covid-secure workplaces, facilitating a safe return to work, managing how much time is actually spent in the office whilst maybe retaining an element of working from home, and providing support for those experiencing lockdown-related mental health issues are all things employers are currently dealing with.
Looking further forward however, and to post Covid, this short-term emphasis will shift and employers are sure to demand an even greater occupational health provision.
Creating Covid-secure workplaces, facilitating a safe return to work, managing how much time is actually spent in the office whilst maybe retaining an element of working from home, and providing support for those experiencing lockdown-related mental health issues are all things employers are currently dealing with. Looking further forward however, and to post Covid, this short-term emphasis will shift and employers are sure to demand an even greater occupational health provision.”
Enhanced demand for OH provision
That will indeed create fresh challenges for employers, and especially so for those who presently have little or no occupational health policies in place.
‘Occupational health’ is of course a common term and protecting people from developing work related ill health is probably how it is mainly interpreted.
In reality though, ‘occupational health’, we practitioners know full well, can extend much further and will become vital in satisfying future expectations of the workforce.
In addition to basic health and safety requirements, occupational health providers deliver a wide range of health initiatives in the workplace, and in turn create alternatives to how healthcare is traditionally accessed and general wellbeing maintained.
It’s time to reach out to employers
It all makes sense, really, adults spend huge amounts of time at work and therefore in the future and with a greater focus on health and wellbeing, why wouldn’t they expect employers to play a big part in helping them to live healthier lives?
For employers it’s an easy proposition. With employees being the most valuable asset a business can possess, investing in the health of the workforce can only bring huge benefit to the business and that of society in general.
That’s why as we begin to come out of the short-term pressures of the pandemic, at Central Occupational Health we’re proactively urging employers to contact us, regardless of what current occupational health policies they have in place.
I firmly believe that, by working together, we know we can help to solve both the short- and long- term health and wellbeing needs of the UK workforce.