Rewarding commitment to staff health and wellbeing
Businesses in Northumberland and North Tyneside were recognised for their commitment to staff health and wellbeing at the North East Better Health at Work awards ceremony held last week.
The ceremony, hosted by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, gives recognition and endorsement to workplaces that motivate their employees to develop a sustainable culture of health and wellbeing.
Over 40 businesses in Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle were presented their awards by Paralympic gold medallist Stephen Miller at the ceremony at the Holiday Inn, Seaton Burn.
The North East Better Health at Work award (BHAW) has four levels – bronze, silver, gold and Continuing Excellence and is administered by a range of local NHS Trusts who provide support to local businesses across the region.
Organisations are assessed on a set of criteria to achieve the awards, including identifying ‘health advocates’ from within their staff, providing support to help staff stop smoking, creating a better awareness of how health can be affected by work activities, conducting a health needs assessment with employees and running health improvement campaigns. For the higher awards organisations are required to have systems and procedures in place to monitor and improve workforce health as well as promoting health within their wider community and to families of the workforce.
Les Cranson, health advocate at Lintron Electronics in Ashington who picked up a silver award, said: “We started by carrying out a short questionnaire with staff which gave us insight into which particular areas of health and wellbeing were important to them.
“We used the results to inform our activities and to make sure we offered something for everyone. Northumbria Healthcare is always there to offer advice. They helped us to run sport challenges, weight loss programmes, and public health campaigns to raise awareness of testicular cancer, reducing stress and holiday health.
“All the activities have been really well received by staff, and we’re looking forward to building on these activities as we work towards the gold level of this award.”
To achieve the silver level of the award, Lintron Electronics developed a health and wellbeing action plan for staff.
Some of the activities in the plan included workplace health events where staff were given the opportunity to get their blood pressure and BMI checked and receive advice from NHS health trainers and specialist stop smoking advisors.
Staff also took part a series of challenges across the region ranging from badminton to rock climbing and won the team spirit award in the Northumberland Sport Workforce Challenge 2012 at Newcastle University.
Karen Tate, health improvement specialist at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust who supports businesses in Northumberland to achieve the award, said: “We are delighted that so many local businesses have demonstrated their commitment to the health and wellbeing of their employees over the last year and were successful in achieving North East Better Health at Work awards.
“Most people spend a great deal of time in the workplace, making it one of the most important places to get advice about healthier lifestyles. Evidence shows that making health programmes available can help to reduce sickness absence, as well as motivating and helping to retain staff.”
Sam Haley, director of learner services, TyneMet College, said: “TyneMet College works hard to ensure that we provide a safe and healthy working and learning environment for both our staff and students. We value our staff and realise that we have a commitment to them to promote ‘better health at work’ and we will continue to support healthy lifestyle options to the best of our ability.
“The analysis of the data from the health needs assessment undertaken by staff and students has been paramount in helping the college to introduce a structured framework to follow, beginning with the development and implementation of new policies and procedures, through to promotional events and collaboration with other organisations.
“Last year we were awarded a silver award, this year, receiving a gold award is fantastic and is testament to the commitment of the college’s continuous commitment to developing a healthy working and learning environment.”
To achieve the gold level of the award the college developed a three-year health and wellbeing strategy and action plan for staff and their local community.
Some of the activities in the plan included themed weeks, fitness challenges and workplace health events where staff and pupils were given the opportunity to get their blood pressure and BMI checked, get advice from NHS health trainers and specialist stop smoking advisors.
The college also runs summer family fun days, and has a Christmas fair each year for local residents, where they invite local businesses and charities to exhibit and promote healthy lifestyles messages. The money raised at the events goes to the college’s nominated charity.
Steven Chater, workplace health promotion specialist at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust who supports businesses in North Tyneside to achieve the award, said: “It’s been great working with the college and supporting them to develop their ideas and improve the health and wellbeing of staff, pupils and the local community. We are delighted they have achieved the gold award.
“Most people spend around 60% of their life at work so it’s often the best place to offer support and advice about healthy lifestyles. North East Better Health at Work gives businesses a framework to support staff to improve their health as part of their day to day job.”
Evidence shows that making health programmes available in the workplace can help to reduce sickness absence, keep the workforce happy, healthy, and fit for work.
The ceremony was sponsored by Northern TUC and NHS Public Health North
Any business with more than five workers can take part in the free Better Health at Work Award. Further information about the awards for businesses in Northumberland and North Tyneside is available at www.northumbria.nhs.uk/betterhealthatwork