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Workplace wellness: How healthy are you?


Physical and mental wellbeing is a key theme this week, with the focus being on raising awareness of the impact of depression and the need for first aid skills and equipment in the workplace.
Depression affects a huge one in five of the UK population at some point and costs the British economy more than £8.6bn every year in absence, lost productivity and increased expenses for employers.
As a result, to coincide with Depression Awareness Week, Employee Assistance Programme provider Workplace Options, has provided various best practice advice recommendations for managing and mitigating its effects.
Firstly, it is important to be aware of the warning signs, which include persistent feelings of helplessness, lack of concentration, weight changes and irritability. Once identified as an issue, some personnel will benefit from simply having a sympathetic ear to listen to their personal issues.
But all will appreciate their employer being flexible and accommodating should they seek proper help, which includes making temporary adjustments to their work schedule, where possible.
However, employers also have a duty to communicate with personnel as to their responsibilities in order to help them understand their employer's expectations, the scope of their role and what resources are available to help if they are unable to meet their obligations.
Simple environmental adjustments or increased communication can also make a big difference in reducing workplace anxiety, while gossip should be discouraged and privacy respected.
This means that it is incumbent on employers to set a good example and promote a stigma-free working environment, where employees are encouraged to have an appropriate work-life balance and seek support such as counselling, if required.
Alan King, the firm's president and chief operating officer, said: "Research shows that individuals out of work due to mental health issues like depression are 70% less likely to rejoin the workforce full-time."
But preventative measures and understanding on the part of the employer could do a lot to improve the health and performance of both individual employees and the wider workforce, he added.
In other news, a study undertaken by St John Ambulance to coincide with First Aid Awareness Week, meanwhile, revealed that a huge 72% of employers had no access to automated external defibrillators, even though their use could increase the survival chances of someone suffering from cardiac arrest by up to 75%.
A worrying one in five employees knew someone who had suffered a heart attack in the workplace and almost two-thirds felt that their employers should provide access to life-saving equipment.
Richard Evens, commercial training director at St John Ambulance said that, although AEDs could be employed without training because they are simple to use, a huge 95% of workers indicated that training would make them feel more comfortable in using such machines in a real-world situation.

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