How Much Time Should Employees Spend Sitting?
New UK research shows employers the recommendations on how long staff should spending sitting down in the workplace. A study by Active Working CIC published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine states people should try to spend around two hours a day standing up during working hours.
Data quoted within the research paper suggests that on average office workers spend up to 75 per cent of the day sitting, with more than half of that lasting 30mins or more. This sedentary behaviour is common in a vast array of jobs, with many workers spending their days tied to a computer screen. Even common tasks like getting up to get documents from filing cabinets are being eradicated as employees can do more without having to leave their workstations.
The health impacts of leading a sedentary lifestyle are well-publicised, with the onset of conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease increasing due to lack of movement.
What counts towards the “standing” goal?
Though the experts recommend standing for two hours a day, this doesn’t necessarily mean it all has to occur at once. These periods of standing or walking can include anything from getting up to visit to WC, to taking a walk at lunchtime or even simply getting a drink from the water cooler. Anything that breaks up long stretches of time spent sat in a chair counts towards the goal.
However, two hours of standing is actually only the first step. In fact, the researchers long-term recommendations include a goal of four hours of standing in a working day, or around half of the time employees spend at work.
How to encourage standing at work
Workplaces can encourage periods of standing in the workplace by helping employees to understand the benefits of getting out of the chair. Technology is enabling even phone-based employees to be more mobile with cordless handsets and headsets that allow staff to move around more easily. There are also sit-to-stand desk solutions which enable workers to increase the height of their desk to a standing height while working.
Other businesses may choose to encourage active living with health, wellbeing and exercise groups at breaks or lunchtimes, getting staff on-the-go at available opportunities.
Improving the health and wellbeing of your staff all adds up to happier, healthier, more productive employees who take less time off sick – and that’s just good for business.
How To Stop The Spread Of Infectious Illnesses Throughout Your Workplace
Illnesses and infections such as influenza and norovirus are are very contagious, and can spread quickly in a workplace environment, leading to increased levels of sickness absence amongst employees.
Infection can be spread through indirect contact with a person with an illness. For example, when employees touch phones, computers, or other devices, germs can be spread from person to person with ease. Worryingly, some viruses can live on hard surfaces for up to 72 hours.
In work environments where many people work closely together it can seem as though the spread of these illnesses is unavoidable. However, there are things that can be done to minimise their spread, and their impact on the sickness absence levels within the company.
1. Regular hand washing
A process as simple as cleaning your hands can seriously reduce the amount of germs spread between people. Eighty per cent of infectious diseases are transmitted by touch, and by washing hands frequently and thoroughly, illnesses like these could be reduced.
As an employer consider educating employees about the importance of washing their hands after using the toilet, and before having lunch. The WHO provides the following infographic teaching how to properly wash your hands, and advises that the task should take as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice.
2. Hand santisation
Encouraging the use of hand sanitiser amongst staff can also help prevent against the spread of illness. Consider installing hand sanitiser in company WCs or distributing bottles amongst staff. Non-alcohol based hand sanitiser solutions form a barrier on hands which protect against germs and bacteria, such as norovirus, for several hours.
3. Encourage infected employees to stay at home
To avoid transmission of viruses amongst employees, it is vital that those infected with the illness don’t return to work while they are still ill. Make employees aware that for illnesses like norovirus they should not return to work for 48 hours after their symptoms have gone. Returning early could be the difference between one employee sickness absence, and a large chunk of the workforce.
4. Keep on top of cleaning
If there is an outbreak of infectious illness amongst your staff it could be wise to draft in professional cleaning staff to clean and sanitise the area asap.
Illnesses do happen, but by following these simple rules for effective hygiene your workforce could protect itself against high levels of sickness absence, and the associated impacts to your business. For further information about reducing sickness absence, contact OHBM.
Musculoskeletal Disorders Leading Cause Of Sickness Absence and Productivity Loss
Musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, are the primary cause of sickness absence and productivity loss for businesses. According to a new industry report, employers need to be able to meet the needs of employees with MSDs, allowing them to continue working and prevent their condition getting worse, in addition to boosting engagement and productivity.
A musculoskeletal disorder may affect bones, joints or connective tissue – the most common of these conditions is arthritis. However, it is a common misnomer that this condition, and those like it, affect mainly elderly people. In fact, a study in 2011 showed that 37 per cent of those claiming Employment and Support Allowance reported an MSD as their primary health condition.
In 2012, the Taking the strain: the impact of musculoskeletal disorders report found over half of employed respondents reported a loss of earnings due to the condition. Three quarters of retired respondents said their condition had influenced their decision to retire, with the majority leaving the job market before the age of 55.
This wealth of research suggests that MSDs are of massive impact the workforce, with many sufferers citing lost earnings, a reduction in productivity at work and early retirement as consequences of this condition.
New MSD research
A new report published in autum 2014, entitled Self-management of chronic musculo-skeletal disorders and employment, explores the self management of MSD conditions. It found that employers often don’t go to the necessary lengths to ensure those suffering from an MSD can access the benefits of work. Social, economic and psychological benefits could enhance the health and wellbeing of staff and make sufferers more productive.
The report, by Kate Summers, Zofia Bajorek, Stephen Bevan, states: “Self-management can empower individuals with a better understanding of, and control over, their symptoms and provide them with the tools to ensure their condition is understood and accommodated by others.”
The study suggests that line managers need to be more aware of MSDs to ensure sufferers feel valued, and are well-integrated. Many MSD sufferers don’t seek support for their condition at work, for fear of being judged unable to properly do their jobs.
However, according to the new report, when line managers work with staff to develop mutually beneficial solutions those with MSD will see improved levels of wellbeing. In turn, this enables employers to benefit from improvements in engagement and enhanced levels of productivity.
If you’d like to talk about the effects of MSDs on your workforce’s productivity, speak to the team at OHBM today.