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Monday, 19 February 2018

Engage: How promoting a healthy lifestyle can boost your care workforce

Written by Lee Biggins

Balancing a healthy lifestyle and work can be hard for professionals. After a long day at work, it’s understandable that a trip to the gym may be the last thought on your mind. In fact, half of care professionals admit that they struggle to fit in exercise around their work.

However, it’s not just physical health that’s important for your wellbeing, mental health is too. Worryingly, 46.7% of care employees state that parts of their job cause them to feel depressed or anxious.

It’s clear that all these issues need to be addressed; care professionals shouldn’t have to compromise their health for their job. In light of this, below we explain how promoting a healthy lifestyle in your workplace can boost your business.

Improving productivity and performance

To help boost your business, you need employees who are productive and hard working.Interestingly, our data found that the majority (75%) of care professionals feel more productive when they exercise before work.

Therefore, you might want to consider allowing employees to have flexible working hours to help them find time to work out. If they are able to start work later or finish earlier, it means they can find the time for exercise.

This can work well with any shift patterns – some employees may suit a late start and others an early finish instead.  You could also promote the importance of exercise to employees by asking local gyms if they’ll give your care home a discount or a special deal.

Another issue facing this sector is severe sleep deprivation. Over a third (37.5%) of care workers admit that they feel tired most days in a week and it’s important to tackle this to help employees feel more focused and productive. While you can’t physically monitor your team’s sleeping patterns, you can keep an eye out for people who look like they’re struggling.

In these cases, make sure they aren’t working too many extra hours and consider restricting access to work emails and calls at home as these can significantly disrupt sleep and downtime.

Alongside this, make sure that your night workers have the opportunity to recover from their shifts with enough time to get the recommended seven to nine hours sleep per night. While this may be difficult to achieve in this sector, as unsociable work hours may not be optional, it’s still important to think of ways to put your staff first.

Reducing employee absence

In an industry facing ongoing staff shortages, high employee absence can be a big hurdle towards providing top quality patient care. Yet two-thirds (66.7%) of care professionals say workplace stress makes them feel unwell or fatigued, resulting in more time off work.

This is because stress can lower our immune systems, making us more vulnerable to colds and infections. 

Work with your employees to overcome feelings of stress. This includes encouraging a healthy work life balance and making sure that they aren’t taking the stresses of work home with them. We all need time to recuperate and recharge at the end of the working day.

If you can see your employees are heading for burnout, why not help them by referring them to a wellbeing coach or suggesting other relaxing activities such as yoga. Investing in these strategies can help employees find ways to manage their stress, while also boosting morale and showing your employees that you’re looking out for them.

Encouraging communication

A healthy lifestyle isn’t all about physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing is important to factor in too. Worryingly, over a third (35%) of care professionals said they suffer from depression or anxiety. What’s more, 81% said that this can negatively affect their working life.

Employees who are struggling with their mental health need to feel supported in the workplace. You need to listen and communicate with your employees and host regular one-to-one catch-ups to check-in on their mental wellbeing. Due to the challenging nature of this industry, counsellors should also be available for those who need professional help.

For many, mental health continues to be a taboo subject, so creating a supportive culture can encourage your staff to open up to you and let you know when they need help. This is good for your organisation; creating a positive environment will help employees to be more productive and loyal to your company.

In summary

It’s concerning that care professionals are struggling with their mental and physical health, and it’s clear that steps need to be taken before this problem gets any worse.

If you look out for your employees’ wellbeing, it can be a huge benefit to your organisation and help your staff to feel happier and more productive. Through these proactive techniques, you can promote a healthy lifestyle across your workforce, keeping staff happy and productive.

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library.