Everyone knows that an organisation’s most valuable asset is its employees; and employees that are happy and healthy are the most productive. No surprises there…
Everyone knows that an organisation’s most valuable asset is its employees; and employees that are happy and healthy are the most productive. No surprises there then. But also, and some would argue most importantly, unhealthy, stressed and unproductive employees are going to cost money – a lot of money.
Research shows that in 2013 we took an average 9 days off sick – and the cost of that to employers was in the region of £29 billion. One of the ways to help relieve stress and improve our general well-being is through exercise but fitting it into busy lifestyles can be a challenge – how can employers help?
Whose responsibility is it anyway?
The health and well-being of employees is rarely included in anyone’s job description, this can cause a lack of ownership which will doom any project to fail. A lot of the time it falls to HR but is it really their sole responsibility?
This is an example of a company who employs in the region of 150 people with a very small HR team. When some employees got together to request a salary sacrifice scheme to purchase bikes (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/specialist/salary_sacrifice.htm) it took the busy HR team 18 months to get the scheme in place, they had to jump through so much red tape that the project very nearly didn’t make it at all. Then when the scheme was finally in place the take up was very small even with adequate cycle facilities and showers. Those who had initially requested the scheme got their bikes (although some had moved on to pastures new) and other employees just didn’t know about the scheme or understood how it worked.
What was the problem? Lack of ownership meant it was just another task the HR team had to shoe-horn into their busy schedule, and no one in the team had the responsibility for it, so they didn’t prioritise its success.
Make it part of someone’s job
You can do this by giving the responsibility for encouraging and enabling people to make sustainable travel choices (cycling, walking, car-sharing and using public transport) to someone in your organisation. They will need an adequate budget and enough resources to make the project a success. However, you may not always have the right someone in your team with the skills, passion and personality needed. You may have an employee who has the passion but lacks the knowledge. Getting in touch with an external organisation such as Connected can help get you started and offer the advice and training needed to make the project a success and make real lifestyle benefits for employees to make smarter travel choices.
Making a positive change
Promoting active and healthy lifestyles isn’t easy. Persuading people to leave their cars at home and choose other transport methods isn’t a straightforward task. Handing out leaflets with some top tips and displaying a nice looking poster won’t get the results you are looking for. We are creatures of habit, we all like routine. Our earlier example shows that having the right facilities isn’t enough.
You need to empower people to make better choices, help them change their behaviour and break their habits. Often people that have the task to promote health and wellbeing do not have the right skills, knowledge or experience to do so.
Let the experts do their job
There are a few ways to seek out professional help. Your first choice is the one already mentioned, identifying an in-house expert. You need someone who brings tested methodology, and makes it work for your organisation and your employees.
Your second option is to empower your own employees by introducing a workplace champion scheme. You may already have proactive people in your organisation so utilise those skills and character traits!
You could also look for promotional tools and resources developed by professionals. Connected is a great place to start. Connected is all about making sustainable travel choices a way of life in Derby. Connected can offer you all the support and tools you need to carry out a successful campaign.
Help with funding
The UK economy is still recovering from a double-dip recession and many organisations are still very careful about what they spend their money on. The idea of installing new shower facilities or erecting secure bike parking could push the budget too far. However through the Connected programme there may be an opportunity to apply for funding of up to £25,000, to help towards the cost of installing equipment and services to help employees travel by more sustainable means.
How can Connected help?
At Connected we have the know-how, the tried and tested behaviour change methodology that really makes a difference, and the enthusiasm and experience to help make a difference. We work with a range of organisations in the Derby City area and see success stories all the time. Connected can offer a wide-range of FREE services, help and advice including Connected Roadshows at your workplace, help in creating a Travel Action Plan, Personal Travel Planning, Grant applications to access funding opportunities, information on local public transport services, adult cycle training and bike maintenance workshops and much more.
If you would like to join the Connected Network, or just have a chat about what we can offer, you can contact us now on 01332 641759 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org