The monthly round-up of the news and trends in the wellbeing sector
‘POOR TEAM SPIRIT’ INCREASES DEPRESSION RISK Poor team spirit in the workplace increases an employee’s risk of depression, and subsequent use of antidepressants, new research suggests. Employees who feel that team spirit in the workplace is poor are over 60% more likely to report depressive symptoms and over 50% more likely to be taking antidepressants. Researchers interviewed 3,347 Finnish employees aged between 30 and 64 about their perceptions of the working environment, including team spirit, the quality of communication, and their degree of job control/demands. The findings were published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
PROMOTION MEANS ‘LESS CONTACT WITH GP’ A promotion produces 10% more mental strain and reduces time to visit a GP by up to 20%, according to new research from the University of Warwick. The study of 1,000 individual cases found that after a job promotion, there was on average a 10% decrease in people’s mental health measured in a standardised way across the wider British population. Those promoted at work also reported on average a 20% fall in their visits to a doctor following their promotion. The research was presented at a Royal Economic Society conference.
DEPRESSED WORKERS ‘NEED MORE SUPPORT’ People with depression believe their work is being adversely affected by their condition but only a quarter inform HR that they are suffering, a survey suggests. The Depression Alliance survey of 288 members found that 83% believed their work was being affected. While nearly half (46%) believe that having a job helps them to recover, 79% said telling their colleagues about their condition would have a detrimental impact on them. Nearly a third (32%) think they have been turned down for a job as a result of their condition. Nearly one in ten workers suffer from depression and anxiety, according to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
INSURERS TALK THE TALK… BUT DO COMPANIES
WALK THE WALK?
Some companies spend a lot of time discussing the importance of workplace health – so we thought we’d put their claims to the test each month! Do their workforces practise what they preach?
Anyone brave enough to step on a huge set of scales at a railway station, local swimming pool or seaside pier and watch the needle spin upwards, might be interested to know that the opportunities to satisfy your curiosity in public have moved on in recent years. Water WellPoint’s interactive kiosks will not only tell you your weight, but update you on your body mass index, body fat content, heart rate and blood pressure. And, of course, tell you whether you are drinking enough water.
The company, which specialises in bringing water to the workplace, recently provided its staff with access to the kiosks, encouraging them to set personal health goals, in addition to providing massage at the office and initiating lunchtime strolls in the area. While water coolers have long been the focus of the most important conversations of the working day – from who went on television show The Apprentice to what’s wrong with the photocopier – there are, according to Water WellPoint, numerous other reasons to ensure employees consume their recommended two litres of water a day. A loss of 2% or more of a body’s fluids causes a 20% reduction in the performance in both physical and in mental and cognitive activities, according to their Water Facts. Those facts include the revelation an elephant is 70% water and a chicken 75%, which will no doubt fuel further discussion over a paper cup of the clear stuff.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cause of cancer deaths after lung cancer, claiming 50 lives every day, yet 90% of cases are curable if the disease is diagnosed early enough. Beating Bowel Cancer is a national charity seeking to improve awareness of symptoms, promote early diagnosis and encourage open access to treatment choice for those affected by bowel cancer.
Beating Bowel Cancer is delighted to be relaunching its successful Health in the Workplace scheme in the coming months, a project which raises awareness of the condition among diverse groups of individuals, within the workplace setting.
A 30 minute presentation to employees (typically at lunchtime) is given by a trained Health in the Workplace volunteer, who will have had a personal experience of bowel cancer – either personally or via a family member. The presentation includes a talk about their experience of the disease, a short factual DVD and the provision of written information that employees can take away. As well as improving awareness about the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer, and preventative measures they can take to reduce their risk (health eating, exercise etc), the presentation helps foster discussion among colleagues on what is often considered a difficult to discuss and taboo subject.
Previous organisations that Beating Bowel Cancer has worked with include companies such as BP, Vodafone, UBS, Estée Lauder, as well as a number of public sector organisations such as the Environment Agency. Feedback has always been very positive and the charity is delighted to have secured funding to continue this very popular initiative.