A new study has elaborated further on prior evidence taken from a study suggesting that exercise programs can ease the burden of mobility issues in our aging workforce. We look at the findings, and how these fit into BIA UK’s existing philosophy.
Dr Chris van Tulleken tackles the issue of over-prescription of drugs in his two part BBC documentary as titled. He highlights the strengthening resistance of bacteria to antibiotics and gives a dangerous warning as to our future if we don’t curb our pill popping habit. But what of the solution? The TV program is well worth a watch and ventures into the frightening culture of using tablets to fix ourselves that we’ve all become accustomed to.
Over-Prescription – An Exaggeration?
Firstly, are we really taking too many pills as a nation? After all when we go to the doctor and ask for some antibiotics we really need them, right? Apparently not – as The Guardian report on the program states:
“Painkiller prescriptions have increased by 25% over the last five years, despite research showing that such tablets only work around 50% of the time. Five million people in the UK are on antidepressants and their prescribed use among teens has increased by 50% over the past seven years.”
Part of the problem stems from patients asking for antibiotics and GPs only getting a short amount of time (10 mins) to find out what the problem is and offer a solution. This means a huge amount of pills are being prescribed at any one time – indeed, Dr Chris calculates that someone born today might easily consume 100,000 pills during their lifetime.
Throughout recent weeks we’ve discussed in depth the benefits of occupational physiotherapy, how to measure it and how to achieve success and ROI with it as a wellness program.
For the last blog in this series we’re going to conclude with what a healthy workforce looks like once you’ve implemented, evaluated and reaped the benefits of your well-being program of choice and encompassed other elements of organisational culture.
Well-being Program Qualities
If we focus on well-being programs specifically to start, we’ve taken the below points from the CIPD report “Growing the Health and Well-being Agenda: From First Steps to Full Potential”. These are summarised to include the following attributes of what a successful well-being program looks like:
- The well-being program has formal evaluation methods in place
- The well-being program is being used by employees! (This often comes from a promotional plan of its benefits from the start)
- Targets are set and measured against in relation to key metrics such as absence rates
- One or all of these three areas are covered; health and safety, management of ill-health and prevention and promotion of ill health
Organisational and Environmental Qualities
With regard to employer and environmental qualities, the report mentions the below results of a happy workforce:
- Employees work in a values-based working environment
- Open lines of communication exist throughout the organisational hierarchy across all levels
- There is clarity and unity of organisational purpose
Lastly, let’s conclude with some cultural qualities likely to be present in an organisation with a healthy workforce.
- Culturally, a work/life balance is encouraged and the culture flexible where flexibility fits and is possible
- Compensation is fair and spans both salary and benefits
- A holistic approach is taken covering financial wellness and mental health aspects such as stress
To conclude, the CIPD summarises the above in its graphic displaying the five domains of well-being. You can find this on page 24 of the report.
- A healthy workforce encompasses both cultural and target-driven elements
- A holistic approach to well-being is best
- Data matters in achieving wider business success through well-being
We summarise more of the CIPD report mentioned in our free eGuide which you can download here.
The high importance of evaluation in well-being program success is documented and discussed in the CIPD report “Growing the Health and Well-being Agenda: From First Steps to Full Potential” is. The CIPD states that this importance lies in both achieving the best results and securing future budget.
There is further discussion on why evaluation is so important in our blog on hard data in wellness, but for this discussion we’re moving on to popular evaluation methods for wellness instead.
*See this blog on Nudjed too – a company helping to deliver ROI for well-being.*
Many options are available for companies that are looking to improve performance and decrease absence in the workplace through well-being programs.
Ultimately, the results of these programs will dictate not just their success, but how viable they will be to run in the future.
There are two key areas that will dictate the success of your campaign:
- Board level buy-in
- Whole business buy-in
To get both the board and the company to buy-in to your program are two completely separate challenges. This blog will explore how you need to approach both challenges in a different way, and demonstrate what you need to drive a successful well-being program.
We’ve written previously about the hard numbers and colossal cost when it comes to workplace absence, however the benefits of reducing this aren’t restricted to numerical savings off your absence bill every year. This post will discuss two wider benefits of dealing with workplace absence as a result of occupational physiotherapy we’ve had fed back to us from our clients.
For businesses of all sizes, absence can be expensive. The CIPD estimates absence costs a company an average of around £554 – £557 per employee, per year depending on whether they are a manual or non-manual worker and these costs can quickly start to stack up within larger workforces.
Calculating Your Organisation’s Workplace Absence
Working out how much absence is costing your company can be a little complicated, but if you’re just starting to understand this cost, a useful place to start is the following calculation, called the Lost Time Rate:
The cost of absence to employers is staggering, running up a bill of billions to UK businesses annually. It is for this reason that as more data has become available, wellness programs have flourished as they work on reducing the cost of absence to businesses and increasing the positive effect of wellness on organisational well-being.
One common concern when looking to implement a wellness program, is how to decide on the right wellness program for an organisation – as these can range from offering free fruit and fitness classes, to counselling and resilience training, to physiotherapy and medical care.
And to this end, data and evaluation can be a great aid in making this important business decision.
I’ve been practising or working in the physiotherapy field for 23 years so you would expect me to know a bit about the importance of physical health. But this week, it’s REALLY struck me that physical health is not just important – it’s vital! And the more I think about it, the more I think that good physical health, and therefore exercise, is the keystone to ALL health!
In fact there doesn’t seem to be many illnesses or conditions where exercise doesn’t have a role in prevention and cure. This is what I have read about the benefits of exercise just in the last 2 weeks:
This past week alone, I have woken up to the news that many researchers believe that exercise is the most effective treatment for cancer prevention.
Exercise should be prescribed by doctors to those with Type II Diabetes to control blood sugar and insulin insensitivity.
It has been long proven that exercise plays a vital role in reducing arthritis symptoms, but this past month, new research suggests that high intensity training can reduce Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain.
Still the Number 1 biggest killer in the UK yet news out today shows we are getting complacent despite it being preventable in many cases. Lack of exercise doubles our risk of having a heart attack.
Research has shown that exercise can improve breathing among people with a respiratory disease, although it is recognised that participating in any type of physical activity while your lung function progressively declines is not an enjoyable experience.
A new piece of research confirmed that a combination of exercise and education is still the most effective approach for treatment and prevention of back pain.
Mental Health Conditions
People with mental health disorders are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic physical health conditions, says new research, but as physiotherapists, we have long known of the link between physical and mental health.
So what does that mean for us involved with sickness absence in the workplace? For me, it is clear. Occupational Health and Wellbeing Services and Programmes should focus on improving their employees’ physical fitness. The need for physiotherapists, as the exercise rehabilitation specialists, in the work place has never been stronger. By addressing employees’ physical activity into their treatment plan, we can proactively help with all sickness absence, not just musculoskeletal cases.
An article published in Science Daily recently proved music to our team’s ears as it spoke of the effectiveness of wellness programs, and how many dollars are lost to ineffective programs. Additionally, we came across a fun piece in The Huffington Post about hot to navigate busy workout spaces as newly invigorated resolutions are run, x-trained and stepped up in the gym.
Firstly, In the largest study of its kind, researchers from the University of Michigan have looked into workplace wellness programs and their effectiveness. Ten modifiable health risks across seven industries were assessed using a colossal sample size of 223,500 participants.
In short, the study results show that one out of every four dollars that employers spend on healthcare is for lifestyle-related ailments such as smoking, stress or obesity. The catch comes in that most large employers have wellness programs! So despite actively investing in their employee’s health, they still spend a quarter of their healthcare budget on treating preventable conditions.
Thus the question arises, how effective is the typical corporate wellness program, and how can it be made more-so? One of the main points made was that wellness programs can be very superficial, lessening their effectiveness as they don’t get to the crux of the problem.
What We Think
This study was music to our ears and we recommend reading the rest of it here. Our in-house physiotherapy clinics run monthly for our clients which means our ROI value is one of the highest around at 11 to 1. If you’re going to invest in a wellness program that works, something substantial and ongoing is far more likely to pay dividends when it comes to saved healthcare spend, particularly around lifestyle-related illnesses.
January Gym Fever Hits the UK
Lastly, it’s January and people’s New Year’s Resolution’s are firmly in play – as a result, your gym has never likely seemed busier. For this reason, Huffington Post has the below ideas for navigating your way through the running machines for the remainder of this month!
• Lunchtimes are quieter: If you can nip out of work at lunchtime to train, this can result in a much easier session with far less queuing! Mornings and evenings before and after work are commonly the busiest.
• Brave the cold: Get your vitamin D, wake up call and endorphins all in one hit and without a queue in sight by taking your workout outside this month.
• Try something new: Challenging your body with something new and a machine that doesn’t have a big queue in front of it can help your workout, and your January fitness goals.
• Cancel for January: Lots of big gym chains allow for memberships to be paused, so if you really can’t stand the extra people, knock it on the head for the month.