A new breed of HR professional is emerging which is taking responsibility for the health and wellbeing of staff.
Over the past 18 months companies including Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, HBOS and Goldman Sachs, have created such roles prompted by greater awareness of the bottom-line effects of ill health.
Jacquie Hill has been head of health and wellbeing at Barclays for a year. She previously worked in employee relations for 10 years and reports to the HR director. One of her main responsibilities is to promote awareness of absenteeism to managers so they can recognise recurring trends.
“I look at health and safety from a commercial perspective,” says Hill. “I don’t just collate absence data but have to understand what causes it and how we can be more proactive in preventing it. Then I share this knowledge with the rest of the business. I also work closely with our third-party occupational health provider to help manage conditions such as musculoskeletal disorders and stress more effectively.”
Jacinta Negri is manager of health and wellbeing at Royal Bank of Scotland, a role that was created at the start of 2005. She was previously a senior HR consultant within the bank’s resourcing and development function. She is responsible for managing a number of projects including the delivery of an integrated health risk management model. But her chief responsibility is to understand the impact of health on the overall productivity of the company.
“By addressing the physical, mental, social and emotional wellbeing of our people, we create a more engaged, dynamic, creative and productive workforce. Demonstrating this connection and making it happen for our people is what it’s really all about,” says Negri.
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development employee relations adviser, Ben Willmott, says: “Having someone in HR with a specific remit to promote health and wellbeing means it’s more likely organisations will keep their eye on the ball and make sure basic management procedures are in place to keep staff healthy and help them get back to work should they become ill.”
About the job
To help reduce absence and ill health, boost productivity, engagement and retention, and cut costs associated with ill health.
Creating HR policies, delivering health education, analysing absence data, managing stakeholders, supplier research, external benchmarking and identifying health interventions.
You need a thorough understanding of occupational health issues or a clinical background. You will also need commercial awareness, and analytical and communication skills.