Tag Archives: well

Yoga in the office? Firms should help us stay well, says public health chief

Lunchtime yoga classes, providing help to remove ingrowing toenails and holding meetings while walking around the office – these are just some of the strategies that employers should use to boost staff fitness, according to the NHS public health chief.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, is also backing workplace running clubs, standing desks to improve posture and staff uniting to try to quit smoking as useful ways businesses can improve employee wellbeing.

In an interview with the Observer, Selbie made clear that Britain’s 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could do much more to tackle the £29bn annual bill for sickness absence while improving productivity and increasing profits at the same time.

“SMEs are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and can kickstart a revolution in helping their staff to improve their health. People spend 30, 40 or sometimes 50 hours a week at work. That’s a unique opportunity for employers to use that big chunk of someone’s week to care for their health,” said Selbie. His plea is aimed at the 5.5 million firms which make up 99% of all private sector businesses and employ 60% of those who work in the private sector.

“Forward-thinking companies are already offering help such as podiatry services to employees who are on their feet all day or group posture exercises for people who stand in the same position for a long time because of their job.

“Employers could adopt group exercise challenges, such as ‘Couch to 5k’ or lunchtime run clubs, and promote active travel like cycling to work. Being regularly active is one of the best ways to prevent and manage poor musculoskeletal health and combat stress, which are both major causes of sickness absence,” he added.

Employers should take a “bottom-up” approach to improving staff health and wellbeing by putting in place ideas that employees want, rather than things that would be “nice to have”, he said.

“We want to see every business take a custom-made approach to employee health by looking at what staff need. We encourage employers to create dynamic environments, workplaces where people can be more active, move more and change positions, with things like standing desks.”

Firms could encourage staff to hold “walking meetings” in the local park rather than sitting down in an office and always eat lunch somewhere other than their desk, Selbie said. Ergonomic assessments of posture could help identify stiffness and pain that may indicate that back problems are emerging which can then be tackled early.

He wants action to encourage more staff to cycle to work. HR Magazine recently found that 33% of employers believe that cyclists are more productive at work than non-cycling colleagues. In addition, 44% of bosses polled said cyclists were more productive and 89% thought that those who used two wheels had more energy during the day. Research by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has found that physically active staff take 27% fewer sick days.

Firms could also use camaraderie between staff to help smokers quit. Selbie suggested using group workplace challenges, such as smokers all signing up to take part in Stoptober together, and that employers could alert workers when mobile bus clinics were due to be in the area.

The PHE boss wants businesses to help staff with their mental health too. “The main way to reduce stress levels is through training line managers in mental health and educating workforces to increase their mental health literacy, and to recognise the signs which indicate that they need support,” he said.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that small firms did not have the advantage of large corporations in being able to use their employees to get discount deals for gym memberships or private health providers, for example.

“The average small employer has around seven employees and their approach is often more akin to a family unit than it is a large business. So while many small businesses are not sedentary or desk-based in their work, we know that many are encouraging fitness breaks for running or gym classes, while others have indeed innovated through things such as walking meetings.

“The key is not to instruct or compel them, but for the small business owner and their team to come up with ideas that work for them.”

Selbie added: “Everyone benefits from a healthier workforce: employees, who will enjoy better health and be less likely to be off sick; employers, who will reap the benefits of increased productivity; and the NHS, which will have less poor health to deal with.”

Yoga in the office? Firms should help us stay well, says public health chief

Lunchtime yoga classes, providing help to remove ingrowing toenails and holding meetings while walking around the office – these are just some of the strategies that employers should use to boost staff fitness, according to the NHS public health chief.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, is also backing workplace running clubs, standing desks to improve posture and staff uniting to try to quit smoking as useful ways businesses can improve employee wellbeing.

In an interview with the Observer, Selbie made clear that Britain’s 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could do much more to tackle the £29bn annual bill for sickness absence while improving productivity and increasing profits at the same time.

“SMEs are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and can kickstart a revolution in helping their staff to improve their health. People spend 30, 40 or sometimes 50 hours a week at work. That’s a unique opportunity for employers to use that big chunk of someone’s week to care for their health,” said Selbie. His plea is aimed at the 5.5 million firms which make up 99% of all private sector businesses and employ 60% of those who work in the private sector.

“Forward-thinking companies are already offering help such as podiatry services to employees who are on their feet all day or group posture exercises for people who stand in the same position for a long time because of their job.

“Employers could adopt group exercise challenges, such as ‘Couch to 5k’ or lunchtime run clubs, and promote active travel like cycling to work. Being regularly active is one of the best ways to prevent and manage poor musculoskeletal health and combat stress, which are both major causes of sickness absence,” he added.

Employers should take a “bottom-up” approach to improving staff health and wellbeing by putting in place ideas that employees want, rather than things that would be “nice to have”, he said.

“We want to see every business take a custom-made approach to employee health by looking at what staff need. We encourage employers to create dynamic environments, workplaces where people can be more active, move more and change positions, with things like standing desks.”

Firms could encourage staff to hold “walking meetings” in the local park rather than sitting down in an office and always eat lunch somewhere other than their desk, Selbie said. Ergonomic assessments of posture could help identify stiffness and pain that may indicate that back problems are emerging which can then be tackled early.

He wants action to encourage more staff to cycle to work. HR Magazine recently found that 33% of employers believe that cyclists are more productive at work than non-cycling colleagues. In addition, 44% of bosses polled said cyclists were more productive and 89% thought that those who used two wheels had more energy during the day. Research by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has found that physically active staff take 27% fewer sick days.

Firms could also use camaraderie between staff to help smokers quit. Selbie suggested using group workplace challenges, such as smokers all signing up to take part in Stoptober together, and that employers could alert workers when mobile bus clinics were due to be in the area.

The PHE boss wants businesses to help staff with their mental health too. “The main way to reduce stress levels is through training line managers in mental health and educating workforces to increase their mental health literacy, and to recognise the signs which indicate that they need support,” he said.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that small firms did not have the advantage of large corporations in being able to use their employees to get discount deals for gym memberships or private health providers, for example.

“The average small employer has around seven employees and their approach is often more akin to a family unit than it is a large business. So while many small businesses are not sedentary or desk-based in their work, we know that many are encouraging fitness breaks for running or gym classes, while others have indeed innovated through things such as walking meetings.

“The key is not to instruct or compel them, but for the small business owner and their team to come up with ideas that work for them.”

Selbie added: “Everyone benefits from a healthier workforce: employees, who will enjoy better health and be less likely to be off sick; employers, who will reap the benefits of increased productivity; and the NHS, which will have less poor health to deal with.”

Yoga in the office? Firms should help us stay well, says public health chief

Lunchtime yoga classes, providing help to remove ingrowing toenails and holding meetings while walking around the office – these are just some of the strategies that employers should use to boost staff fitness, according to the NHS public health chief.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, is also backing workplace running clubs, standing desks to improve posture and staff uniting to try to quit smoking as useful ways businesses can improve employee wellbeing.

In an interview with the Observer, Selbie made clear that Britain’s 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could do much more to tackle the £29bn annual bill for sickness absence while improving productivity and increasing profits at the same time.

“SMEs are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and can kickstart a revolution in helping their staff to improve their health. People spend 30, 40 or sometimes 50 hours a week at work. That’s a unique opportunity for employers to use that big chunk of someone’s week to care for their health,” said Selbie. His plea is aimed at the 5.5 million firms which make up 99% of all private sector businesses and employ 60% of those who work in the private sector.

“Forward-thinking companies are already offering help such as podiatry services to employees who are on their feet all day or group posture exercises for people who stand in the same position for a long time because of their job.

“Employers could adopt group exercise challenges, such as ‘Couch to 5k’ or lunchtime run clubs, and promote active travel like cycling to work. Being regularly active is one of the best ways to prevent and manage poor musculoskeletal health and combat stress, which are both major causes of sickness absence,” he added.

Employers should take a “bottom-up” approach to improving staff health and wellbeing by putting in place ideas that employees want, rather than things that would be “nice to have”, he said.

“We want to see every business take a custom-made approach to employee health by looking at what staff need. We encourage employers to create dynamic environments, workplaces where people can be more active, move more and change positions, with things like standing desks.”

Firms could encourage staff to hold “walking meetings” in the local park rather than sitting down in an office and always eat lunch somewhere other than their desk, Selbie said. Ergonomic assessments of posture could help identify stiffness and pain that may indicate that back problems are emerging which can then be tackled early.

He wants action to encourage more staff to cycle to work. HR Magazine recently found that 33% of employers believe that cyclists are more productive at work than non-cycling colleagues. In addition, 44% of bosses polled said cyclists were more productive and 89% thought that those who used two wheels had more energy during the day. Research by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has found that physically active staff take 27% fewer sick days.

Firms could also use camaraderie between staff to help smokers quit. Selbie suggested using group workplace challenges, such as smokers all signing up to take part in Stoptober together, and that employers could alert workers when mobile bus clinics were due to be in the area.

The PHE boss wants businesses to help staff with their mental health too. “The main way to reduce stress levels is through training line managers in mental health and educating workforces to increase their mental health literacy, and to recognise the signs which indicate that they need support,” he said.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that small firms did not have the advantage of large corporations in being able to use their employees to get discount deals for gym memberships or private health providers, for example.

“The average small employer has around seven employees and their approach is often more akin to a family unit than it is a large business. So while many small businesses are not sedentary or desk-based in their work, we know that many are encouraging fitness breaks for running or gym classes, while others have indeed innovated through things such as walking meetings.

“The key is not to instruct or compel them, but for the small business owner and their team to come up with ideas that work for them.”

Selbie added: “Everyone benefits from a healthier workforce: employees, who will enjoy better health and be less likely to be off sick; employers, who will reap the benefits of increased productivity; and the NHS, which will have less poor health to deal with.”

Yoga in the office? Firms should help us stay well, says public health chief

Lunchtime yoga classes, providing help to remove ingrowing toenails and holding meetings while walking around the office – these are just some of the strategies that employers should use to boost staff fitness, according to the NHS public health chief.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, is also backing workplace running clubs, standing desks to improve posture and staff uniting to try to quit smoking as useful ways businesses can improve employee wellbeing.

In an interview with the Observer, Selbie made clear that Britain’s 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could do much more to tackle the £29bn annual bill for sickness absence while improving productivity and increasing profits at the same time.

“SMEs are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and can kickstart a revolution in helping their staff to improve their health. People spend 30, 40 or sometimes 50 hours a week at work. That’s a unique opportunity for employers to use that big chunk of someone’s week to care for their health,” said Selbie. His plea is aimed at the 5.5 million firms which make up 99% of all private sector businesses and employ 60% of those who work in the private sector.

“Forward-thinking companies are already offering help such as podiatry services to employees who are on their feet all day or group posture exercises for people who stand in the same position for a long time because of their job.

“Employers could adopt group exercise challenges, such as ‘Couch to 5k’ or lunchtime run clubs, and promote active travel like cycling to work. Being regularly active is one of the best ways to prevent and manage poor musculoskeletal health and combat stress, which are both major causes of sickness absence,” he added.

Employers should take a “bottom-up” approach to improving staff health and wellbeing by putting in place ideas that employees want, rather than things that would be “nice to have”, he said.

“We want to see every business take a custom-made approach to employee health by looking at what staff need. We encourage employers to create dynamic environments, workplaces where people can be more active, move more and change positions, with things like standing desks.”

Firms could encourage staff to hold “walking meetings” in the local park rather than sitting down in an office and always eat lunch somewhere other than their desk, Selbie said. Ergonomic assessments of posture could help identify stiffness and pain that may indicate that back problems are emerging which can then be tackled early.

He wants action to encourage more staff to cycle to work. HR Magazine recently found that 33% of employers believe that cyclists are more productive at work than non-cycling colleagues. In addition, 44% of bosses polled said cyclists were more productive and 89% thought that those who used two wheels had more energy during the day. Research by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has found that physically active staff take 27% fewer sick days.

Firms could also use camaraderie between staff to help smokers quit. Selbie suggested using group workplace challenges, such as smokers all signing up to take part in Stoptober together, and that employers could alert workers when mobile bus clinics were due to be in the area.

The PHE boss wants businesses to help staff with their mental health too. “The main way to reduce stress levels is through training line managers in mental health and educating workforces to increase their mental health literacy, and to recognise the signs which indicate that they need support,” he said.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that small firms did not have the advantage of large corporations in being able to use their employees to get discount deals for gym memberships or private health providers, for example.

“The average small employer has around seven employees and their approach is often more akin to a family unit than it is a large business. So while many small businesses are not sedentary or desk-based in their work, we know that many are encouraging fitness breaks for running or gym classes, while others have indeed innovated through things such as walking meetings.

“The key is not to instruct or compel them, but for the small business owner and their team to come up with ideas that work for them.”

Selbie added: “Everyone benefits from a healthier workforce: employees, who will enjoy better health and be less likely to be off sick; employers, who will reap the benefits of increased productivity; and the NHS, which will have less poor health to deal with.”

Yoga in the office? Firms should help us stay well, says public health chief

Lunchtime yoga classes, providing help to remove ingrowing toenails and holding meetings while walking around the office – these are just some of the strategies that employers should use to boost staff fitness, according to the NHS public health chief.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, is also backing workplace running clubs, standing desks to improve posture and staff uniting to try to quit smoking as useful ways businesses can improve employee wellbeing.

In an interview with the Observer, Selbie made clear that Britain’s 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could do much more to tackle the £29bn annual bill for sickness absence while improving productivity and increasing profits at the same time.

“SMEs are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and can kickstart a revolution in helping their staff to improve their health. People spend 30, 40 or sometimes 50 hours a week at work. That’s a unique opportunity for employers to use that big chunk of someone’s week to care for their health,” said Selbie. His plea is aimed at the 5.5 million firms which make up 99% of all private sector businesses and employ 60% of those who work in the private sector.

“Forward-thinking companies are already offering help such as podiatry services to employees who are on their feet all day or group posture exercises for people who stand in the same position for a long time because of their job.

“Employers could adopt group exercise challenges, such as ‘Couch to 5k’ or lunchtime run clubs, and promote active travel like cycling to work. Being regularly active is one of the best ways to prevent and manage poor musculoskeletal health and combat stress, which are both major causes of sickness absence,” he added.

Employers should take a “bottom-up” approach to improving staff health and wellbeing by putting in place ideas that employees want, rather than things that would be “nice to have”, he said.

“We want to see every business take a custom-made approach to employee health by looking at what staff need. We encourage employers to create dynamic environments, workplaces where people can be more active, move more and change positions, with things like standing desks.”

Firms could encourage staff to hold “walking meetings” in the local park rather than sitting down in an office and always eat lunch somewhere other than their desk, Selbie said. Ergonomic assessments of posture could help identify stiffness and pain that may indicate that back problems are emerging which can then be tackled early.

He wants action to encourage more staff to cycle to work. HR Magazine recently found that 33% of employers believe that cyclists are more productive at work than non-cycling colleagues. In addition, 44% of bosses polled said cyclists were more productive and 89% thought that those who used two wheels had more energy during the day. Research by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has found that physically active staff take 27% fewer sick days.

Firms could also use camaraderie between staff to help smokers quit. Selbie suggested using group workplace challenges, such as smokers all signing up to take part in Stoptober together, and that employers could alert workers when mobile bus clinics were due to be in the area.

The PHE boss wants businesses to help staff with their mental health too. “The main way to reduce stress levels is through training line managers in mental health and educating workforces to increase their mental health literacy, and to recognise the signs which indicate that they need support,” he said.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that small firms did not have the advantage of large corporations in being able to use their employees to get discount deals for gym memberships or private health providers, for example.

“The average small employer has around seven employees and their approach is often more akin to a family unit than it is a large business. So while many small businesses are not sedentary or desk-based in their work, we know that many are encouraging fitness breaks for running or gym classes, while others have indeed innovated through things such as walking meetings.

“The key is not to instruct or compel them, but for the small business owner and their team to come up with ideas that work for them.”

Selbie added: “Everyone benefits from a healthier workforce: employees, who will enjoy better health and be less likely to be off sick; employers, who will reap the benefits of increased productivity; and the NHS, which will have less poor health to deal with.”

Yoga in the office? Firms should help us stay well, says public health chief

Lunchtime yoga classes, providing help to remove ingrowing toenails and holding meetings while walking around the office – these are just some of the strategies that employers should use to boost staff fitness, according to the NHS public health chief.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, is also backing workplace running clubs, standing desks to improve posture and staff uniting to try to quit smoking as useful ways businesses can improve employee wellbeing.

In an interview with the Observer, Selbie made clear that Britain’s 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could do much more to tackle the £29bn annual bill for sickness absence while improving productivity and increasing profits at the same time.

“SMEs are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and can kickstart a revolution in helping their staff to improve their health. People spend 30, 40 or sometimes 50 hours a week at work. That’s a unique opportunity for employers to use that big chunk of someone’s week to care for their health,” said Selbie. His plea is aimed at the 5.5 million firms which make up 99% of all private sector businesses and employ 60% of those who work in the private sector.

“Forward-thinking companies are already offering help such as podiatry services to employees who are on their feet all day or group posture exercises for people who stand in the same position for a long time because of their job.

“Employers could adopt group exercise challenges, such as ‘Couch to 5k’ or lunchtime run clubs, and promote active travel like cycling to work. Being regularly active is one of the best ways to prevent and manage poor musculoskeletal health and combat stress, which are both major causes of sickness absence,” he added.

Employers should take a “bottom-up” approach to improving staff health and wellbeing by putting in place ideas that employees want, rather than things that would be “nice to have”, he said.

“We want to see every business take a custom-made approach to employee health by looking at what staff need. We encourage employers to create dynamic environments, workplaces where people can be more active, move more and change positions, with things like standing desks.”

Firms could encourage staff to hold “walking meetings” in the local park rather than sitting down in an office and always eat lunch somewhere other than their desk, Selbie said. Ergonomic assessments of posture could help identify stiffness and pain that may indicate that back problems are emerging which can then be tackled early.

He wants action to encourage more staff to cycle to work. HR Magazine recently found that 33% of employers believe that cyclists are more productive at work than non-cycling colleagues. In addition, 44% of bosses polled said cyclists were more productive and 89% thought that those who used two wheels had more energy during the day. Research by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has found that physically active staff take 27% fewer sick days.

Firms could also use camaraderie between staff to help smokers quit. Selbie suggested using group workplace challenges, such as smokers all signing up to take part in Stoptober together, and that employers could alert workers when mobile bus clinics were due to be in the area.

The PHE boss wants businesses to help staff with their mental health too. “The main way to reduce stress levels is through training line managers in mental health and educating workforces to increase their mental health literacy, and to recognise the signs which indicate that they need support,” he said.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that small firms did not have the advantage of large corporations in being able to use their employees to get discount deals for gym memberships or private health providers, for example.

“The average small employer has around seven employees and their approach is often more akin to a family unit than it is a large business. So while many small businesses are not sedentary or desk-based in their work, we know that many are encouraging fitness breaks for running or gym classes, while others have indeed innovated through things such as walking meetings.

“The key is not to instruct or compel them, but for the small business owner and their team to come up with ideas that work for them.”

Selbie added: “Everyone benefits from a healthier workforce: employees, who will enjoy better health and be less likely to be off sick; employers, who will reap the benefits of increased productivity; and the NHS, which will have less poor health to deal with.”

Yoga in the office? Firms should help us stay well, says public health chief

Lunchtime yoga classes, providing help to remove ingrowing toenails and holding meetings while walking around the office – these are just some of the strategies that employers should use to boost staff fitness, according to the NHS public health chief.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, is also backing workplace running clubs, standing desks to improve posture and staff uniting to try to quit smoking as useful ways businesses can improve employee wellbeing.

In an interview with the Observer, Selbie made clear that Britain’s 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could do much more to tackle the £29bn annual bill for sickness absence while improving productivity and increasing profits at the same time.

“SMEs are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and can kickstart a revolution in helping their staff to improve their health. People spend 30, 40 or sometimes 50 hours a week at work. That’s a unique opportunity for employers to use that big chunk of someone’s week to care for their health,” said Selbie. His plea is aimed at the 5.5 million firms which make up 99% of all private sector businesses and employ 60% of those who work in the private sector.

“Forward-thinking companies are already offering help such as podiatry services to employees who are on their feet all day or group posture exercises for people who stand in the same position for a long time because of their job.

“Employers could adopt group exercise challenges, such as ‘Couch to 5k’ or lunchtime run clubs, and promote active travel like cycling to work. Being regularly active is one of the best ways to prevent and manage poor musculoskeletal health and combat stress, which are both major causes of sickness absence,” he added.

Employers should take a “bottom-up” approach to improving staff health and wellbeing by putting in place ideas that employees want, rather than things that would be “nice to have”, he said.

“We want to see every business take a custom-made approach to employee health by looking at what staff need. We encourage employers to create dynamic environments, workplaces where people can be more active, move more and change positions, with things like standing desks.”

Firms could encourage staff to hold “walking meetings” in the local park rather than sitting down in an office and always eat lunch somewhere other than their desk, Selbie said. Ergonomic assessments of posture could help identify stiffness and pain that may indicate that back problems are emerging which can then be tackled early.

He wants action to encourage more staff to cycle to work. HR Magazine recently found that 33% of employers believe that cyclists are more productive at work than non-cycling colleagues. In addition, 44% of bosses polled said cyclists were more productive and 89% thought that those who used two wheels had more energy during the day. Research by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has found that physically active staff take 27% fewer sick days.

Firms could also use camaraderie between staff to help smokers quit. Selbie suggested using group workplace challenges, such as smokers all signing up to take part in Stoptober together, and that employers could alert workers when mobile bus clinics were due to be in the area.

The PHE boss wants businesses to help staff with their mental health too. “The main way to reduce stress levels is through training line managers in mental health and educating workforces to increase their mental health literacy, and to recognise the signs which indicate that they need support,” he said.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that small firms did not have the advantage of large corporations in being able to use their employees to get discount deals for gym memberships or private health providers, for example.

“The average small employer has around seven employees and their approach is often more akin to a family unit than it is a large business. So while many small businesses are not sedentary or desk-based in their work, we know that many are encouraging fitness breaks for running or gym classes, while others have indeed innovated through things such as walking meetings.

“The key is not to instruct or compel them, but for the small business owner and their team to come up with ideas that work for them.”

Selbie added: “Everyone benefits from a healthier workforce: employees, who will enjoy better health and be less likely to be off sick; employers, who will reap the benefits of increased productivity; and the NHS, which will have less poor health to deal with.”

Yoga in the office? Firms should help us stay well, says public health chief

Lunchtime yoga classes, providing help to remove ingrowing toenails and holding meetings while walking around the office – these are just some of the strategies that employers should use to boost staff fitness, according to the NHS public health chief.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, is also backing workplace running clubs, standing desks to improve posture and staff uniting to try to quit smoking as useful ways businesses can improve employee wellbeing.

In an interview with the Observer, Selbie made clear that Britain’s 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could do much more to tackle the £29bn annual bill for sickness absence while improving productivity and increasing profits at the same time.

“SMEs are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and can kickstart a revolution in helping their staff to improve their health. People spend 30, 40 or sometimes 50 hours a week at work. That’s a unique opportunity for employers to use that big chunk of someone’s week to care for their health,” said Selbie. His plea is aimed at the 5.5 million firms which make up 99% of all private sector businesses and employ 60% of those who work in the private sector.

“Forward-thinking companies are already offering help such as podiatry services to employees who are on their feet all day or group posture exercises for people who stand in the same position for a long time because of their job.

“Employers could adopt group exercise challenges, such as ‘Couch to 5k’ or lunchtime run clubs, and promote active travel like cycling to work. Being regularly active is one of the best ways to prevent and manage poor musculoskeletal health and combat stress, which are both major causes of sickness absence,” he added.

Employers should take a “bottom-up” approach to improving staff health and wellbeing by putting in place ideas that employees want, rather than things that would be “nice to have”, he said.

“We want to see every business take a custom-made approach to employee health by looking at what staff need. We encourage employers to create dynamic environments, workplaces where people can be more active, move more and change positions, with things like standing desks.”

Firms could encourage staff to hold “walking meetings” in the local park rather than sitting down in an office and always eat lunch somewhere other than their desk, Selbie said. Ergonomic assessments of posture could help identify stiffness and pain that may indicate that back problems are emerging which can then be tackled early.

He wants action to encourage more staff to cycle to work. HR Magazine recently found that 33% of employers believe that cyclists are more productive at work than non-cycling colleagues. In addition, 44% of bosses polled said cyclists were more productive and 89% thought that those who used two wheels had more energy during the day. Research by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has found that physically active staff take 27% fewer sick days.

Firms could also use camaraderie between staff to help smokers quit. Selbie suggested using group workplace challenges, such as smokers all signing up to take part in Stoptober together, and that employers could alert workers when mobile bus clinics were due to be in the area.

The PHE boss wants businesses to help staff with their mental health too. “The main way to reduce stress levels is through training line managers in mental health and educating workforces to increase their mental health literacy, and to recognise the signs which indicate that they need support,” he said.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that small firms did not have the advantage of large corporations in being able to use their employees to get discount deals for gym memberships or private health providers, for example.

“The average small employer has around seven employees and their approach is often more akin to a family unit than it is a large business. So while many small businesses are not sedentary or desk-based in their work, we know that many are encouraging fitness breaks for running or gym classes, while others have indeed innovated through things such as walking meetings.

“The key is not to instruct or compel them, but for the small business owner and their team to come up with ideas that work for them.”

Selbie added: “Everyone benefits from a healthier workforce: employees, who will enjoy better health and be less likely to be off sick; employers, who will reap the benefits of increased productivity; and the NHS, which will have less poor health to deal with.”

Yoga in the office? Firms should help us stay well, says public health chief

Lunchtime yoga classes, providing help to remove ingrowing toenails and holding meetings while walking around the office – these are just some of the strategies that employers should use to boost staff fitness, according to the NHS public health chief.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, is also backing workplace running clubs, standing desks to improve posture and staff uniting to try to quit smoking as useful ways businesses can improve employee wellbeing.

In an interview with the Observer, Selbie made clear that Britain’s 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could do much more to tackle the £29bn annual bill for sickness absence while improving productivity and increasing profits at the same time.

“SMEs are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and can kickstart a revolution in helping their staff to improve their health. People spend 30, 40 or sometimes 50 hours a week at work. That’s a unique opportunity for employers to use that big chunk of someone’s week to care for their health,” said Selbie. His plea is aimed at the 5.5 million firms which make up 99% of all private sector businesses and employ 60% of those who work in the private sector.

“Forward-thinking companies are already offering help such as podiatry services to employees who are on their feet all day or group posture exercises for people who stand in the same position for a long time because of their job.

“Employers could adopt group exercise challenges, such as ‘Couch to 5k’ or lunchtime run clubs, and promote active travel like cycling to work. Being regularly active is one of the best ways to prevent and manage poor musculoskeletal health and combat stress, which are both major causes of sickness absence,” he added.

Employers should take a “bottom-up” approach to improving staff health and wellbeing by putting in place ideas that employees want, rather than things that would be “nice to have”, he said.

“We want to see every business take a custom-made approach to employee health by looking at what staff need. We encourage employers to create dynamic environments, workplaces where people can be more active, move more and change positions, with things like standing desks.”

Firms could encourage staff to hold “walking meetings” in the local park rather than sitting down in an office and always eat lunch somewhere other than their desk, Selbie said. Ergonomic assessments of posture could help identify stiffness and pain that may indicate that back problems are emerging which can then be tackled early.

He wants action to encourage more staff to cycle to work. HR Magazine recently found that 33% of employers believe that cyclists are more productive at work than non-cycling colleagues. In addition, 44% of bosses polled said cyclists were more productive and 89% thought that those who used two wheels had more energy during the day. Research by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has found that physically active staff take 27% fewer sick days.

Firms could also use camaraderie between staff to help smokers quit. Selbie suggested using group workplace challenges, such as smokers all signing up to take part in Stoptober together, and that employers could alert workers when mobile bus clinics were due to be in the area.

The PHE boss wants businesses to help staff with their mental health too. “The main way to reduce stress levels is through training line managers in mental health and educating workforces to increase their mental health literacy, and to recognise the signs which indicate that they need support,” he said.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that small firms did not have the advantage of large corporations in being able to use their employees to get discount deals for gym memberships or private health providers, for example.

“The average small employer has around seven employees and their approach is often more akin to a family unit than it is a large business. So while many small businesses are not sedentary or desk-based in their work, we know that many are encouraging fitness breaks for running or gym classes, while others have indeed innovated through things such as walking meetings.

“The key is not to instruct or compel them, but for the small business owner and their team to come up with ideas that work for them.”

Selbie added: “Everyone benefits from a healthier workforce: employees, who will enjoy better health and be less likely to be off sick; employers, who will reap the benefits of increased productivity; and the NHS, which will have less poor health to deal with.”

Arts can help recovery from illness and keep people well, report says

GPs prescribing arts activities to some ill patients could lead to a dramatic fall in hospital admissions and save the NHS money, according to a new report into the subject of arts, health and wellbeing published after two years of evidence-gathering.

The inquiry report was published on Wednesday; a huge document that includes hundreds of interviews and dozens of case studies showing how powerfully the arts can contribute to people’s health and wellbeing.

David Shrigley illustration


Illustration: David Shrigley

Co-chaired by former arts ministers Alan Howarth and Ed Vaizey, the all-party inquiry contends that the arts can keep people well, aid recovery from illness, help people to live longer, better lives and save money in health and social services.

Lord Howarth said it was a comprehensive review of evidence that had never been produced before. “Sceptics say where is the evidence of the efficacy of the arts in health? Where is the evidence of the value for money it can provide? We show it in this report.

“The arts can help people take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing in ways that will be crucial to the health of the nation.”

Art helps you see


Illustration: David Shrigley

The report was welcomed by the current arts minister, John Glen, appointed five weeks ago. He pledged to act on its recommendations, saying: “This sort of work isn’t window-dressing, please don’t be cynical about it. It gives a dataset and some real stories that we can use as we go through the treacle of Whitehall.”

The case studies include an Artlift arts-on-prescription project in Gloucestershire where patients with a wide range of conditions, from depression to chronic pain to stroke, were referred to an eight-week course involving poetry, ceramics, drawing, mosaic or painting.

A cost-benefit analysis showed a 37% drop in GP consultation rates and a 27% reduction in hospital admissions. That represents an NHS saving of £216 per patient.

The Strokestra project between the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hull stroke service running a music-making service for patients


The Strokestra project between the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hull stroke service running a music-making service for patients.

Strokestra, a collaboration between the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hull stroke service, found that 86% of patients felt music-making sessions – which included percussion and conducting – relieved their symptoms and improved their sleep.

The report also includes contributions from artists including David Shrigley, who has provided illustrations, and Grayson Perry, who writes: “Making and consuming art lifts our spirits and keeps us sane. Art, like science and religion, helps us make meaning from our lives, and to make meaning is to make us feel better.”

Howarth said there were many examples of good practice and innovation around the UK, but also areas where little was going on.

'The arts' sun shining on a sunflower


Illustration: David Shrigley

“We are calling for an informed and open-minded willingness to accept that the arts can make a significant contribution to addressing a number of the pressing issues faced by our health and social care systems.”

The report makes 10 “modest and feasible” recommendations that would not need additional public spending or require new legislation, the report authors said.

They include setting up a philanthropically funded strategic centre to support good practice, promote collaboration and coordinate research.

There are also recommendations about politicians and policymakers from different areas working better together, something Vaizey acknowledged was an issue.

Arts minister for six years until being sacked by Theresa May, Vaizey added: “I was very conscious as a minister that I worked in a silo and it was incredibly hard to break out of that silo, incredibly hard to engage with ministers from other government departments. The arts, almost more than any sector, is a classic example where silo working does not work.”

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing report is available here.