Work Foundation calls for joined up thinking to make UK healthier

The Work Foundation has urged the government to commit itself to making 2006 the year of the healthy workplace.

Its report Healthy Work: Productive Workplaces, published with the London Health Commission, warns that the government’s strategy on health and work lacks cohesion and will have little impact on the real issues affecting health and productivity.

Written by David Coats, associate director of the Work Foundation and Catherine Max, programme manager at the London Health Commission, the report argues that while both the government and employers are making laudable efforts to improve the health of the nation, little will come of them unless Whitehall departments and agencies start to work together.

It claims that too many people are still employed in jobs that both cause ill health and lead to poor productivity.

The report claims that problems such as sickness absence, dependence on welfare benefits and low pay have their root in ‘bad jobs’ – jobs that give employees little voice or control.

Other issues that affect health and productivity include imbalances between effort and reward, bad management and poor job design. The report argues that employers must tackle the whole system and not just the symptoms in isolation.

“If work is one of the major routes to both a healthier population and a more productive one, then the government must sort out the muddle of agencies by creating a clear strategic framework, transparent policy objectives and a route map that all can follow,” Coats said. “Get this right and we will have a healthier nation and a growing economy.”

A recent poll on showed that 89% of HR professionals believe health is the responsibility of the individual, with only one in 10 believing that employers should bear the weight of the problem.

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