When your CEO arrives every morning clad in Lycra cycling shorts and gripping a bottle of freshly-juiced kale, you know the corporate landscape has changed.
Today, the notion of wellbeing (which embraces physical and mental health) is fast becoming part of the business mainstream.
Getting absenteeism rates down (whether caused by illness or stress) clearly benefits the bottom line; according to the UK Financial Times, mental health problems cost UK businesses c.£35 billion in 2017. But many organisations are adopting the wellbeing agenda for more positive reasons, accepting that wellbeing improves cognitive performance, and that de-stressed and healthy employees are more productive.
However, this poses an interesting question, “to what extent is wellbeing the responsibility of the organisation versus the individual employee?”
It’s hard to see how organisations can be made entirely responsible for their employees’ wellbeing. Sure, you can provide a gym, but what right does a company have to make employees use it? Nagging obese workers to get into shape may increase workplace stress instead of reducing it!
Employers have a clear responsibility to eliminate working practices that are likely to increase ill-health or create excessive stress – but is that as far as formal responsibility goes?
Put up cycle shelters, be open to flexible working, offer healthy food in your canteen, give employees adequate time off and good medical benefits – but let your employees make their own choices.