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Work-related illness costs £13 billion a year, guidance suggests

24 June 2015

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Poor workforce health costs around £13 billion annually, which NICE guidance released today aims to tackle.

To create a healthier workplace the National Institute for Care Excellence (NICE) advises managers to make sure their employees are working reasonable hours, are taking regular breaks and feel appreciated for the work they do. This can be done through encouraging workers to be creative and maintaining a positive attitude with staff, they say.

The guideline, which is for employers, managers and employees, gives advice on how to develop the culture of an organisation to create a positive environment.

Simon Stevens, NHS England Chief Executive, said: “Health-promoting workplaces are obviously good for millions of employees and ultimately for taxpayers too, so the time is right for all employers – including the NHS – to raise our game.”

Professor Gillian Leng, NICE deputy chief executive said it is not only the physical hazards of work – long irregular hours, lack of activity or repetitive injuries – that damage people’s health. Other factors such as a lack of control over work, conflicts, and discriminatory practices can also have an effect on staff wellbeing.

“Every workplace is different and the relationship between management and employee wellbeing is a complex one, dependent on numerous factors including occupation, sector and so on. However, there are some basic principles that should be applied by all employers, directors and line managers – these include ensuring the right policies and managements practices are in place.

“Recommendations include encouraging new ideas and exploring new ways of doing things and opportunities to learn, recognising the contribution of each employee and if possible a flexible approach to work scheduling, giving employees more control and flexibility over their own time,” she said.