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
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
"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.
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."
signs that work is making you sick:
- You're not sleeping well.
- You have an upset stomach.
- You get headaches.
- You have developed a short,
- You're dissatisfied.
ways to improve your workplace:
Keep staff up to date on
techniques to minimise repetitive strain injuries and workplace
Have healthy meals available at
Make sure your office furniture is
Increase the amount of natural
light and ventilation.
If workers are staying back late
then an in-office creche should be considered.
July 24th 2002