October 22, 2014
The Government must comprehensively reform its strategy if it’s to tackle the barriers that remain for many businesses in implementing health and wellbeing programmes. This is the message from the Health at Work Policy Unit’s first paper which was launched yesterday (21 October 2014) by Lancaster University’s Work Foundation at an event featuring Professor Dame Carol Black and Professor Sir Cary Cooper. The Way Forward: Policy Options for Improving Workforce Health in the UK examines why a large number of businesses have continued to neglect health and wellbeing given the strong business case and identifies the barriers facing employers at three main stages: planning, implementation, and evaluation of these policies. However, according to the lead author, Dr Zofia Bajorek, these barriers can be overcome by developing a health and wellbeing strategy which illustrates the potential for competitive advantage, investing in and executing evidence based outcomes which must then be measured and reported.
Commenting on the launch, Professor Dame Carol Black, member of the Health at Work Policy Unit steering group, said: “I am delighted to be at the launch of the Health at Work Policy Unit. The mental and physical health of the UK workforce presents considerable challenges, and the economic and social consequences for the labour market and for politicians will continue to grow. This new Unit will provide a much-needed ‘hub’ for innovative ideas, evidence-based proposals, evaluative data, and examples of successful practice, from both the UK and the global stage.”
The paper, The Way Forward: Policy Options for Improving Workforce Health in the UK, is the first in a series planned by the Health at Work Policy Unit; its aim is to stimulate discussion and debate around possible policy measures which can increase the number of employers who are active and effective in workplace health promotion.
The Unit will provide ongoing commentary and publish papers which respond to relevant political debate, as it occurs. The Health at Work Policy Unit – supported by NAPP Pharmaceutical Holdings Limited and Bupa – in its international comparison will present the Government with a broad range of options to further encourage employers to promote health and wellbeing through:
- Fiscal incentives
- Levy systems
- Local ‘budget-pooling’
- Responsible procurement
- Health and wellbeing regulation
- Regulation for health and wellbeing disclosures and making data available to investors
- Organisational pledges
Professor Stephen Bevan, director of the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness, The Work Foundation said: “This first paper from The Work Foundation’s Health at Work Policy Unit aims to stimulate discussion and debate about policy measures which could be adopted to increase the number of employers who are active and effective in developing and implementing workplace health and wellbeing programmes.”
“We’ve found that despite the strong business case, many companies continue to neglect health and wellbeing policies in the workplace. The Government must play a leading role in removing some of the barriers by offering advice and guidance in addition to empowering businesses through options such as tax incentives, a levy system, or local budget pooling to encourage employers to act.”