29 Mar 2013

Power to the People!!

Hi folks,

Just a short one (but very important one) this week. As you know I'm always blogging with solutions to improving workforce health & how to get your employees engaged, but this week I'm going to say "Let them decide!"

In my research on stress management, one of the most impacting factors is how much control an employee has over their work. With this in mind, if we dictate extra measures to them (with good intentions) & tell them what they should / should not be doing then many may resent this and may end up having a negative effect.

By consulting employees, e.g. by forums, surveys, or group meetings, we can increase employee engagement, sense of value, sense of purpose & ultimately success of the health & well being program. The optimum way to do this may be to circulate a very short e-survey asking employees to number a list of health measures (such as the ones mentioned in my previous blogs) in order of preference, then a blank section asking for other suggestions or comments. The results could then be analysed by a group made up of department reps & mixture of management levels.

Enjoy the Easter break!



21 Mar 2013

'THE Next Big Thing' in Workforce Health!

Hi folks,

Those of you in the workplace health industry will be familiar with the usual measures such as health checks or even postural education & weight-loss clubs, but lets take a massive jump in to the future & see what may be happening in 5-10yrs time:


Surprised? Get rid of those preconceptions & images of big muscly sweaty blokes downing protein drinks & replace them with a more healthy, toned & resilient version of your workforce. Yes, this may involve a dumbbell, barbell, kettle bell, resistance tube, or even just body weight but the adoption of these steady controlled movements that are simple & safe for everyone to do will...

1) Not only strengthen muscle but other connective tissue (tendons, ligaments & fascia), making your employees less prone to inflammation, wear & tear, RSI's

2) With the correct tuition, teach your employees control of not only a weight & other forces, but also greater control & awareness of their own body in the workplace. 

3) Safeguard / re-balancing your posture. (Strength training here is essential as ergonomic interventions & stretching are not enough & can't do this effectively).

4) Stimulate the growth of nervous pathways giving your employees more control, over more of their body.

5) Increase energy & confidence of your workforce, both mentally as well as physically.

6) Burns calories effectively, & sometimes they don't even get sweaty!

With my background in the fitness industry you might expect me to be such a fan so don't just take it from me, take it from the back surgeon that predicted strength training as "the next big thing in workplace health" in his seminar at the recent Health & Well being @ Work Conference. 

If you're even just 10% as passionate about this as I am, please contact me via my website to see how we can deliver these benefits to your workforce in a unique package.


15 Mar 2013

Could Workplace Pain be all in the Head?

Hi folks,

Last week at the Health & Well being @ Work conference I came across an interesting concept about pain symptoms related to injury & workplace MSDs (muscular skeletal disorders). Obviously we usually think of pain being a product of some physical trauma in the body but some recent research suggests this is not always true.

A group of physicians where assessing one of their clients who presented with scoliosis (lateral curvature of the spine), however this client reported no pain despite there being some structural degradation. This lead the physicians to research further, gradually forming the concept that often pain is a mental response to an emotional trigger. For example, the anniversary of a death or another stressful period of time may subconsciously cause the stress felt at the time to re-occur, lowering our resilience. This then, depending on our job & workplace dynamics, may raise our exposure to pain.

Other research has also been done on the separate areas of the brain that deal with emotion and pain, and apparently a direct connection can be traced ie. the pathway doesn't have to involve the physical.

So in summary:
1) Not all MSDs / degenerative conditions cause pain
2) Underlying emotional stress can increase the risk of injury = pain
3) Underlying emotional stress may be able to trigger pain symptoms with no physical injury apparent. 

With so many HR managers, H&S managers, & OC health advisers having to deal with a number of employees with pain (often back pain) on a daily basis, this blog may be of interest & support more bio-psychosocial elements being included in any FCEs (functional capacity evaluations) your company may have.



8 Mar 2013

Let's Get Real about Red Meat!

Hi folks,

As you will have heard in the news, new guidelines have come out regarding safe amounts of red meat to consume. Some sources say that if we have more than 500g per week or the equivalent to one chipolata per day, we are significantly increasing our chances of serious diseases (heart attack, cancers etc) later in life. This coupled with the earlier news that Britain has some of the highest obesity rates in Europe, doesn't sound too good does it.

Even though red meats do have slightly higher saturated fat levels than white meats, I feel that this is not what we should be focusing on. What's going to make the biggest improvement to national health is cutting out processed meats!

A lean piece of steak with the fat trimmed off is a lot healthier than a chicken burger made with re-formed meat, added salt, water & preservative!

Workplace: Have a thing about your work canteen. Are those 'home cooked' meals made using processed red meat such as economy mince or sausage meat? Realistically it is affordable to have a healthier option such as chicken / turkey breast / fish fillets on offer each day. Take a look at your options next time you're buying your lunch & let me know what they are!!

PS: Ive just got back from the Health & Well being @ Work conference, the best annual conference in the industry. So next weeks blog will be on what's new!



2 Mar 2013

How to Engage Employees in Workplace Health: Part 2

Hi folks,

Last week’s blog suggested 3 ways to engage those ‘Yellow flag’ employees (aka the pre-contemplators) & get them to buy-in to the benefits of workplace health. This week, as promised, I’m focusing on the contemplators / relapses’. These are those employees that already have more of an interest in a healthy lifestyle &/or have made a positive start but fallen off the wagon for some reason.

If we can just re-ignite these people then it will be a relatively quick & easy result!
Here are the 3 steps to take:

1) Time – a busy few weeks is all it takes & exercise goes on the back-burner right? So let’s use your employee training time quota for short educational workshops on topics such as back care, stress management, posture, & nutrition etc. Then set up pre & post-shift on-site exercise & stretch sessions to that focus on exercises that have positive transfer to employee roles.

2) Motivation - Unfortunately it takes a little time & hard work for people to see results so the first few weeks can be disappointing. By getting people to work in groups (nutritional group & activity groups) we can significantly boost their commitment. Additionally, organise reward / incentive actives such as short charity runs, abseiling, water rafting, and laser-quest, to keep things fun & interesting.

3) Illness / injury. The flu or a shoulder injury are common set-backs & we can’t eliminate them. But, we can proactively reduce them by improving vitamin intake through nutritional education, then improving our strength, technique & flexibility through exercise sessions. Use sections 1) & 2) above to cover this.

So that’s it, by using the 3 steps from last week as well as the 3 above, you are well on your way to a healthy & high performing workforce. If you would like any help on delivering / implementing any of this then please contact me.