Debbie Lovewell-Tuck: Wellbeing can fight the blues

During the winter months, the temptation to indulge in stodgy comfort food and glasses of red wine lounging beside roaring fires (or in front of the television with the central heating at full blast) can often be hard to resist.

All too often, good intentions around exercise and healthy eating go out of the window with the promise that we will be good when the weather starts to improve.

With this in mind, the winter months might not seem like the most appropriate time to launch or promote health and wellbeing initiatives.

However, with research by Bupa and the Centre for Economics and Business Research last month finding that employees with poor health and a lack on motivation cost the UK £6 billion last year, employers could be missing a trick if they limit wellbeing activity to the summer months.

The study of 5,000 workers found that 29% of respondents said they are unable to concentrate at work because of poor health, while 37% are experiencing stress and pressure due to ill-health and staff absence. Yet, despite such findings, 41% of respondents perceive wellbeing to be all talk and no action in their organisation.

With the study also indicating a rise in stress in some parts of the UK, wellbeing initiatives, such as encouraging staff to exercise or providing on-site classes or activities, could help to lift employees’ moods.

This was backed up by the results of an updated systematic review published in healthcare evidence databases The Cochrane Library, also last month, which found that, although further trials are needed, exercise is as effective at treating depression as taking antidepressants or undergoing psychological therapy.

So encouraging staff to leave their winter comfort zone could pay dividends. The seasonal conditions could also be used as a selling point: after all, who doesn’t love a snowball fight or ice skating?

And, if you’ve taken steps to manage stress in your organisation using health and wellbeing initiatives, why not shout about it in the Employee Benefits Awards 2014, by entering ’Best stress management strategy’?

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
Deputy Editor
Employee Benefits
Tweet: @DebbieLovewell