Discovering People
    Sick and tired of it

    Winter workplaces can be minefields: first, you have to brave the train, bus or traffic to get there, then you run into sick workmates battling runny noses, watery eyes, sore muscles and painful joints.

    No wonder so many of us take time off to recover. So how do you look after yourself and your staff when you're spending close to 10 hours a day at the office?

    It's naturally harder to look after yourself in winter, and if you've got problems managing your work/life balance they're likely to show up now. As the nature of work changes to take over more of our time, companies need to offer incentives outside gimmick-laden casual dress days, theme weeks and free soft drinks to snare and keep top employees, says organisational psychologist Dr Jim Bright, from the University of New South Wales.

    "You need to address all the different aspects of health as the concept of health management is not really tangible to a lot of companies," he says.

    "If you do fitness you're only looking after one aspect of health. You can be fit but still have way too much pressure and be stressed."

    Corus Hotel, Sydney, took the plunge with Healthy Business's holistic health program two years ago, and is reaping the rewards with happier, healthier staff and glowing customer surveys.

    "We've seen significant savings with sick leave: in the first year there has been a 17 per cent reduction on the previous year, and only one repetitive strain-related worker's compensation claim since we began," says Corus Hotel Sydney general manager Craig Barber. "This is quite amazing in the hotel industry when you consider that we have housekeeping staff doing the same thing time and time again. Before this, we could have as many as three or four claims running at any given time, due to the nature of the work."

    Workers were given the option of how far they wanted to improve or enhance their level of fitness, with surprising results.

    "We did healthy heart checks with them once, and identified three staff members who were walking time bombs," he says. "They've since changed their lifestyle, are aware of their problems and, a year later, they have their cholesterol and blood pressure under control."

    And by training housekeeping staff to stretch and warm up before hitting the floor, he has set up a preventative health program to reduce the chances of employees suffering sprains, and keeps his insurance costs down.

    "If someone starts to have any discomfort we're on to it straight away and give them exercises and other things to do to ensure that it doesn't become a problem," he says. "That's an enormous saving, and a healthy workforce is a far more productive workforce."

    Five signs that work is making you sick:

    1. You're not sleeping well.
    2. You have an upset stomach.
    3. You get headaches.
    4. You have developed a short, snappy temper.
    5. You're dissatisfied.

    Five ways to improve your workplace:

    1. Keep staff up to date on techniques to minimise repetitive strain injuries and workplace accidents.
    2. Have healthy meals available at the canteen.
    3. Make sure your office furniture is ergonomic.
    4. Increase the amount of natural light and ventilation.
    5. If workers are staying back late then an in-office creche should be considered.  
    Source: 'SMH' July 24th 2002 

    If you require any assistance filling your vacant positions, please feel free to contact our office on 9570 2411      

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