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Feeling good

Wellbeing has been the buzzword of the FM industry recently, and everyone in the western world has heard tales told of Google’s HQ and its various eccentricities. But what are more ordinary, everyday companies doing to take care of their staff’s wellbeing?

There are few issues more prominent these days than staff wellbeing. Go to any conference in the FM or HR industry and you’ll get all the examples and advice you can take. Photos from ‘ideal’ workspaces, survey results, top tips from Silicon Valley’s CEOs. But what if your company doesn’t have Google’s bank balance, location or young metropolitan workforce?

Everyday FM firms might need something entirely different. We take a look at what ordinary British firms are doing to keep their staff happy and motivated.

Phil Clayton, MD of Physiotherapy experts, Physio Med, starts of by providing a telling statistic. “Almost one million employees take at least four weeks off per year due to sickness.” With this in mind, what options are available to help firms safeguard the wellbeing of their employees?

“Employers are increasingly looking for ways to improve employee wellbeing,” Clayton explains. “With sickness absence posing a major problem in the workplace, many businesses are placing the health and wellbeing of employees at the top of their priorities list.

“More than 130 million working days are being lost to sickness absence every year in the UK, costing the economy £100 billion a year.

“It is a general misconception that Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are mainly caused by physically demanding jobs, but almost 30 per cent of reported workplace injuries occur in office-based jobs.” Something to bear in mind.

“The debilitating impact of MSD’s is far reaching,” Clayton continues. “Not only is the employee in considerable amounts of pain, but the waiting time for NHS treatment averages at 14 weeks. This waiting time can mean employees being absent from work or operating at reduced levels of productivity, which clearly has an impact on both the employer and the employee.

“Employers are facing increasing pressures to find a solution that improves absence rates and employee wellbeing.

“The most recent innovations see external providers working with businesses to establish a cost effective service that provides faster access to physiotherapy services, enabling them to reduce employee discomfort and minimise associated absences. This faster access also improves work efficiency, facilitating an early return to work, reducing the risk of further absence due to injury recurrence and providing education on injuries.

“And, even more importantly, these services can often be provided remotely to make treatment less intrusive into the working day and the private lives of employees.”

back_painSo how exactly does this work? Well at Physio Med there is an established system that means employees can be contacted by the Physiotherapy Advice Line (PAL) for telephone triage within hours of referral to ensure they are clinically appropriate for treatment. They then quickly receive an initial assessment call from a senior chartered physiotherapist, which incorporates a series of evidence-based clinical questions and movements to facilitate diagnosis. They are then either referred for face-to-face treatment or, in the majority of cases, receive a tailored rehabilitation package, which provides guidance, education and rehabilitation techniques in video format to enable the patient to self-manage their condition.

Clayton explains further: “One of the major advantages of this online service is that employees can self manage their condition at a time that suits them. Employees are provided with an individually tailored web-based self-management plan and exercise programme, communicated via comprehensive video exercise files, and accessed via a computer, smartphone or tablet. This flexible treatment program means employees aren’t tied down to appointment times, improving overall sense of wellbeing.

“The advantages are not limited to just employees. From an employer’s point of view, providing faster access to physiotherapy delivers great results in terms of reduction in sickness and absence, plus cost effectiveness.

“The majority of patients remain at or return to work when they might normally be absent, and are often discharged after just ten days with a reported average reduction in pain of up to 68 per cent. One leading dairy producer reported that 86 per cent of those off sick at the point of referral returned to work, alongside a 28 per cent increase in productivity and function which equated to 1.4 days per person per week.

“The average return on investment is more than 10:1 and because the remote service operates on a pay-as-you-use basis, it is a scalable service which allows businesses of all sizes to access the benefits.

“Back pain is something that can affect anyone in almost any job role so having a cost effective mechanism in place to help employees deal with it while minimising the impact on a company makes sound business sense. There is no doubt about it: when it comes to improving employee wellbeing, reducing sickness absence should be at the top of every firm’s agenda.”

About Sarah OBeirne


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