Debbie Lovewell-Tuck: Occupational health in a changing world

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck

As our Occupational Health Week, in association with Health Shield, draws to a close, it is time to reflect on some of the trends and issues currently shaping employers’ strategies in this area.

In the current climate, looking after employees’ health and wellbeing is arguably more important than ever. Despite some elements of organisational health and wellbeing strategies needing to adapt to suit new ways of working, many employers remain committed to providing such support.

Occupational health is defined as dealing with the prevention and treatment of job-related illnesses and injuries. Organisations may, therefore, find that the conditions that fall under this alter in the coming months, particularly as increasing numbers of employees move to working remotely in line with government guidance around Coronavirus.

Mental ill-health is one area employers will need to be especially mindful of as the UK moves further into the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic. While the current climate alone may increase anxiety and stress levels across the population, someone who is used to working in a team environment may find that suddenly working solely from home impacts their mental health. A lack of, or vastly reduced, human contact, for example, can be detrimental to  mental wellbeing, while concerns over juggling work with increased childcare demands may result in greater levels of stress and pressure.

Historically, occupational health services have been perceived to focus on individuals’ physical health, however, the role these have to play in supporting employees’ mental wellbeing is now increasingly recognised.

In order to optimise the effectiveness of occupational health services, aligning these with an organisation’s workforce demographics is key. Tailoring the support and services on offer to suit workforce needs is likely to result in higher take up and, ultimately, a better return on the employer’s investment.

So, while we are living through unprecedented circumstances and uncertain times, whatever your organisation’s approach to occupational health, Occupational Health Week was designed to help you take this to the next level through exclusive insights and opinions uncovering best practice in this area. These included:

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
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