Event Report: Responsible Leadership Dinner - Health & Wellbeing - the bottom line

Eight business leaders from across the South of England attended the first a Leadership Dinner with a subject theme of ‘Responsible Leadership: Health and Wellbeing – The bottom Line’. The session included a discussion on Business in the Community’s work to date on responsible leadership with a lively debate on health and wellbeing.

David Williams, Area Director at BITC led an open discussion on BITC’s work to date on responsible leadership, reviewing some of the key findings from the 2014 Leadership Summit. The engagement of senior leaders on social and environmental issues was identified as a catalyst in developing a culture where sustainability is at the core of a business’s strategy and operations.  

The Prince’s Seeing is Believing visits enable leaders to gain firsthand experience of the issues most prevalent. Business leaders across the Solent had taken part in a series of visits, which have identified opportunities and led to ongoing partnerships to be formed. 

Jayne Carrington, Managing Director at Right Management Workplace Wellness opened the second part of the evening with a discussion centred on how health and wellbeing can impact on a company’s bottom line and business leaders ignore this at their peril.

One issue raised was mental health in the workplace.  One in four people will experience a mental health problem, line managers therefore need to be educated on being able to comfortably discuss this health issue with staff and to break the culture of silence around mental ill health.  

There was also discussion of the three factors identified by The World Economic Forum which are barriers to economic growth, regardless of geographic location, size of business or sector: an ageing population; talent shortages; and the impact of non-communicable diseases, eg heart disease, diabetes, stroke, stress.

80m baby boomers (1946-1960) will reach retirement age across Europe by 2020, and businesses face a drain of knowledge and experience as this happens. Employers need support with embracing the older worker now that many people are expected to work into their 60s and 70s.

Jayne commented, “It’s a myth that old people take more time off work. The older worker takes less time off sick, but sometimes needs longer to recover from illness or injury.” 

Talent shortages are affecting a number of sectors. Only 21% of young people taking a degree in engineering stated in a recent study that they intend to pursue a career in this field. Greater connectivity between the academic and business environments are core in ensuring young people understand their career options and are inspired to go into highly in-demand skilled professions like engineering.

Awareness and support surrounding preventable lifestyle diseases can be developed and delivered in the workplace.  Consideration also needs to be given to how employers can inspire change. Employers need to understand the health risks of and develop targeted communications to segments of the workforce. 

As the evening drew to a close guests were invited to comment on the evening’s discussion. One of the main topics of focus for leaders was the role email plays both as a form of communication and cause of stress amongst the workforce.

Angela Mays, Human Resources Director at Fasset discussed the recent introduction of ‘No email Friday’. The initiative, which relates to internal email only, aims to increase engagement between employees. Through setting KPIs Fasset is able to monitor and review performance.

Amongst the group it was recognised that, for initiatives like this to perform, senior Management buy-in is core. Gemma Lacey, Head of Sustainability at the Southern Cooperative questioned how you can change the culture of email use amongst senior management.

Jason Woodford, Chief Executive, SiteVisibility reflected that there is no one way that email is used, and that you need to develop a culture of time management and discipline.

Richard Tonge, Dean of Portsmouth Business School, who deals with students who are looking to communicate 24/7, raised the fact that one email sent late at night can set a precedent for others in replying to email enquiries out of traditional working hours. This habit is then reflected in the workplace, so line managers need to lead by example.   

A full list of guests who attended the evening can be found below:

Jayne Carrington Managing Director Right Management Workplace Wellness
Beth Rogers Head of Marketing and Sales University of Portsmouth Business School
Dr Helen Carmichael Head of School of Health, Exercise and Social Science Southampton Solent University
Gemma Lacey Head of Sustainability Southern Cooperative
Claire Mayne PR and Communications Fasset (Langstone Technology Park)
Angela Mays Human Resources Manager Fasset (Langstone Technology Park)
Richard Tongue Associate Dean (Students) University of Portsmouth Business School
David Williams  Area Director, South of England Business in the Community
Jason Woodford CEO SiteVisibility

Further information on the BITC Workwell campaign can be found by clicking here.

For further information on innovative workforce solutions that help companies increase productivity, reduce absence and costs to accelerate performance visit Right Management Workplace Wellnesses website.