London employers create healthier workplaces


Creating healthier, happier staff is the goal of a group of London employers who this week became the first recipients of the Healthy Workplace Awards. 14 organisations across the capital signed up to the London Healthy Workplace Charter, which has been set up by the Greater London Authority to help employers wanting to create healthier workplaces for their staff. An average London firm of 250 employees loses around £250,000 a year due to ill health calculated by sickness absence, whilst workers who are physically active take 27 per cent fewer sick days than their non-physically active counterparts. 17.3 million working days are lost due to alcohol in England, including both dependent and non-dependent drinkers.

Organisations involved in the initial pilot for the London Healthy Workplace Charter included Middlesex University, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust, The Royal Borough of Greenwich and The Charter provides a framework as well as simple ideas to help employers wanting to create a healthier environment for their staff.

Measures that participating organisations introduced included encouraging staff to get more active, for example by using the stairs at work rather than the lift, cycling to work, or getting off the bus a few stops earlier. Some offered subsidised gym memberships, massage in the workplace and even fresh fruit for staff. Other activities included setting up stop smoking groups and developing alcohol and mental health policies.

One organisation found that over a two year period it reduced absence through sickness from 6.5 per cent to 3.5 percent. Another saw staff turnover reduce from 40 per cent to 20 per cent.

Deputy Mayor for London Victoria Borwick commented: ‘Improving the way we think about health, as employers and as staff, has obvious personal benefits, but it also can also have a positive impact on organisations, including the financial bottom line. If people are fitter and healthier they are less likely to take time off and evidence shows it can reduce staff turnover as well. Whether in the public or private sector, our hope is that signing up to the London Healthy Workplace Charter and bringing in a few simple measures will boost the performance of organisations and the health of Londoners.’

The London Healthy Workplace Charter is coordinated by the Greater London Authority working in partnership with London borough public health and environmental health teams that can offer local advice and support.  The GLA has to date been working with seven London boroughs and the aim is to increase numbers across London as the programme expands.

Organisations that participated in the project pilot stage were: Forster, Ltd, Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Middlesex University, Kingston Hospital NHS Trust, Greenwich Council, Kingston Council, New England Seafood, Colemans – CTTS Solicitors LLP, Haringey Council, South London Healthcare NHS Trust, Greenwich University, Wolters Kluwer UK, Deloitte LLP.

London boroughs that took part in the pilot were: Royal Borough of Kingston, Royal Borough of Greenwich, City of London, Westminster, Southwark, Barking and Dagenham and Lewisham.

The awards were presented at City Hall by Professor Dame Carol Black, Expert Adviser on Health and Work to the Department of Health and Dr Marianne Dyer who led the award winning occupational health project at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Park and Village.