The past year has seen new innovation in partnerships, between Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Kent County Council and Medway Council Public Health and businesses to improve workplace health and well-being. Health and well-being is often a subjective state that many of us take for granted, until we become ill. With an ageing population and expectations that we need to work for longer, this places a burden on both employers and employees.
In particular how do we support our older workers, retain talent, reduce sickness absence and increase productivity, whilst managing long term conditions, caring responsibilities and other health related issues. Our people can be costly in both time and money for businesses, health and the wider economy; poor mental health and musculoskeletal conditions being the highest reason for sickness absence nationally and locally.
Work is changing for us all, most of us are less active, have different working patterns and consequently new diseases are increasingly impacting on our workforce such as diabetes, dementia and obesity. The government ‘Independent Review of Sickness Absence’4 in 2011 concluded that high quality work is good for our health, particularly in comparison to unemployment. Therefore as employers it is beneficial to our business as well as our workforce to focus on health and well-being in our workplace.
For the Public Sector, working with employers and employees is essential to sustaining the health and social care system. Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce have facilitated these conversations though Breakfast networking events, B2B events and holding conversations with businesses to escalate messages around lifestyle choices that can improve workplace health and improve business performance.
It’s not just what we eat, but where we work, live and play that impact on our health and wellbeing. People in lower paid work are likely to have up to seventeen years less disability-free life compared to those with higher incomes: therefore a thriving business economy is essential. The Chamber has hosted many events that can still positively impact on our health and wellbeing. The impact of transport, in particular Operation Stack, new developments such as Paramount, airport debates, the Thames Crossing, and managing change provide benefits as well as challenges. We need to have the opportunity to hear and discuss both sides of the debate to make fully informed decisions to ensure economic regeneration benefits both local business and the health of our people. Partnerships between Health, Local Authorities, Chambers, and Businesses will be essential in driving this vision forward.