Workplace wellbeing is an all-encompassing term that includes both the physical and mental features of a job role. The benefits of having a positive workplace wellbeing can be directly linked to a reduction in sickness absence, a reduced employee turnover rate and increase in productivity levels.
As individuals we all want to be treated equally, regardless of race, religion, gender, etc., especially within the workplace. Therefore, our differences need understanding and addressing, with policies and procedures put in place to manage this.
The CODE HR team provide a couple of key areas to review when considering the wellbeing of your team.
Equality, Dignity and Human Rights
The demographic profile of the UK workforce is changing, with life expectancies increasing meaning that the workforce is ageing as well as increasing numbers of women working alongside having young families. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to understand the different wellbeing needs of your team.
Equality legislation has been in force since the 1970s and in later years has been strengthened to require public bodies such as local authorities and the NHS to ’promote’ equality (as opposed to just not discriminate). Additionally, there were moves to ensure that the human rights protections in the European Convention on Human Rights became enforceable in UK law.
The Equality Act (2010) protects certain groups of people from discrimination whether as employees or service users of organisations and businesses in either the private or the public sector. It affects everyone responsible for running a business or service, including any employed staff. The Act introduced the term ‘protected characteristic’ for those groups protected from unlawful discrimination. There are 9 protected characteristics:
- Age (covers those over 18)
- Gender reassignment (whether under medical supervision or not)
- Marriage or civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Race (on the basis of colour, ethnic origin, nationality or citizenship)
- Religion or belief (includes a lack of religion/faith or belief)
- Sexual orientation
The Equality Act protects those with a protected characteristic from unlawful discrimination.
iComply members can refer to the Equality, Dignity and Human Rights Policy (M 233-EQD) to ensure that you are aware of and understand your legal responsibilities, which also apply to your self-employed team members.
Flexible working has become an important initiative that can be very beneficial when addressing the balance of the wellbeing of our team alongside the needs of the practice.
For example, offering the ability to juggle childcare with work commitments allows parents to continue to follow their career while also raising a family. Flexible working hours can really help people to manage their lives better ¬perhaps around school drop offs – and this will make them happier, more productive employees too!
All employees with at least 26 weeks continuous service are entitled to make a flexible working request even if they don’t have childcare or caring responsibilities as it is a statutory entitlement. It is advisable to ask anyone wishing to change their hours, work pattern or location to follow the Flexible Working Application Policy (M 233-FWA) to ensure that the employee understands the process the practice will follow when considering their request. The process includes four key stages;
- The employee submits flexible working request
- The practice will consider and communicate a decision within a period of three months
- If the request is successful, a subsequent change to terms and conditions will be confirmed
- If the request is refused, the practice will provide a reason and state which of the specified reasons apply, with a sufficient explanation as to why those reasons apply, and setting out the appeal procedure
A flexible working request may be refused where it is considered that one or more of the following specified reasons applies:
- The burden of additional costs
- The detrimental affect on ability to meet patient demand
- An inability to reorganise work among existing staff
- An inability to recruit additional staff
- A detrimental impact on quality or performance
- Insufficiency of work during the periods you propose to work
- Planned structural change
If you are unable to agree to a flexible working request it is always best to seek expert HR or legal advice before embarking on a refusal as there can be a risk of discrimination claims.
For further information on how to manage a flexible working request please refer to the Flexible Working Application Policy (M 233-FWA) and ‘Managing Flexible Working’ webinar here.
The gender pay gap has become a huge talking point across all industries and more so in recent years as it became a mandatory regulation in 2017 for employers with over 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap data. The Equality Act gives women and men a right to equal pay for equal work. Employers must give men and women equal treatment in the terms and conditions of their employment contract if they are employed to do:
- ‘Like work’ – work that is the same or broadly similar
- ‘Work rated as equivalent’ under a job evaluation scheme
- ‘Work of equal value’ – in terms of effort, skill or decision making
Mental health wellbeing
Having an awareness of mental health wellbeing is highly beneficial for all members of your team. While it is true that women who are caring for and raising families will often spend less time caring for themselves, there is also a rise in mental health issues in men. Dentistry can be a high-stress profession, so taking the time to manage mental health is very worthwhile and will have a positive impact on your staff morale, productivity and sickness absence levels.
As employers you have the opportunity to tackle the stigma, raise awareness and create a safe environment to tackle mental health in the workplace.
When promoting mental health wellbeing in the workplace we suggest considering the following points;
- Training mental health first aiders within your team to spot potential issues
- Addressing mental health with your team and emphasize that there are plenty of opportunities to talk, with no stigma attached
- Create a pathway for care, through counselling or other services, and ensure your team understands that you will support them as their employer, should they need it
- Look for events that may be beneficial for helping with everyday stresses – such as finance management seminars, yoga retreats, empowerment talks, etc. – and block out time in the practice diary for everyone to attend
Physical health wellbeing
The physical wellbeing of your team is equally as important as the mental health wellbeing, both areas should be addressed in order to promote overall workplace wellbeing. Physical wellbeing can include promoting good health behaviors such as diet, exercise, smoking cessation and alcohol consumption. The support you offer could range from providing information, occupational health referrals, subsidized gym memberships, cycle to work schemes, providing fruit for the practice and encouraging time out for lunch breaks.
It is proven that positive and inclusive workplace wellbeing initiatives will be more successful if the senior management team are actively involved in delivering and participating in the support offered to the team. In our ‘Managing Mental Health in the Workplace’ webinar, the CODE HR Team explores common mental health conditions, workplace and personal triggers, how to spot the signs and tips on how to approach the subject as well as guidance on external support available to you. You can watch all of the CODE HR webinars here.
A well-managed team is the backbone of a successful practice. Take the stress and doubt out of dealing with HR and employment law and focus on growing your business with CODE Total HR. We will look after your HR as well as you take care of your patients.
Join the CODE Total HR and Employment Law service before the 31st July 2019 and get 2 months free subscription, saving over £300! For more information on CODE’s Total HR service visit codeuk.com/hr or call the team on 01409 254 416.