I’m always astounded by vintage footage of offices in the 1970s. Once you get over the size of computers – at a time when a single machine filled a whole room – the next shock is the amount of smoking that’s going on. Pretty much every desk has an overflowing ashtray teetering on the corner, with workers peering at their typewriters through a thick brown fug.
Thankfully, those murky days are long gone. Today when you join a future-facing company like WSP you can expect your personal health and wellbeing to be important to us, as well as the results you achieve.
The other day, I bumped into a friend I hadn’t seen in while, who asked what I do. Once I’d finished explaining that health and wellbeing in an engineering consultancy isn’t just about hard hats, I described how WSP aims to create an environment where our people can thrive, which in turn is reflected in the quality of the work we do.
He looked a bit sceptical. “It’s all a bit Big Brother though, isn’t it? I mean, if I eat a mars bar for breakfast every day, why should my boss care? It’s none of his business is it?”
I was still thinking about what he’d said on the train into work the next day.
First of all, I’m pretty sure the only places chocolate is permissible for breakfast are France and Mount Everest.
Secondly, at WSP we take our duty of care towards our people very seriously. Because it quite literally is, our business.
I don’t just mean there are some good business reasons for looking after our employees (though there are, some of them are below.)
I mean we value and care for our people. Their skills, imagination, professionalism, passion, commitment and ability to solve complex problems are what our clients value about WSP. So we’re committed to supporting our people and giving them tools to make improvements to their health and wellbeing when they need to.
Encouraging our people to look after themselves at work is a good idea for numerous reasons. Here are just a few:
Reason for caring about employees’ health and wellbeing #1:
When you’re well, you’re happier in your work
We spend over a third of our lives at work, so love what you do. When you enjoy good emotional and physical health you’re more likely to feel committed to your job and enjoy coming in to tackle new challenges every day. Being in an environment where you feel supported and appreciated plays a part in this. It also makes you better equipped to handle stress, and adds to a positive overall work environment.When you feel good you pass it on … when we’re around people who are positive we tend to reflect that in our own behaviour.
Reason for caring about employees’ health and wellbeing #2:
When you’re well you don’t need to take time off
When employees are struggling with emotional or physical issues, those who don’t feel supported may not be at their most productive or need to call in sick. Being hydrated, having good oxygen levels and feeling energised makes day-to-day tasks easier. Helping employees stay healthy brings happier, more engaged and productive teams who are able to put full effort into their work.
Reason for caring about employees’ health and wellbeing #3:
When you know we care, you stay with us longer
We all want a job that stretches, challenges us and satisfies us for a long time. At WSP we want to hold on to our talented people, and providing a supportive environment creates happier – and longer-serving – teams.
At WSP, we are committed to making looking after ourselves and each other a simple part of working life in the 21st century.
And unlike all those fags in the seventies, it will be doing us all good.