A key branch of the NHS has offered insights into effective ways to resolve health-related issues affecting their workplace.
The Health4Work Adviceline is a free telephone service from NHS Plus for owners and managers of small businesses to get expert advice on workplace health issues.
In 2010 the service was able to help over 2000 callers to resolve health-related issues affecting their workplace.
In follow-up research 98.5% of respondents said that they were satisfied with the call, and 97% had been spurred on to take action as a result of the call.
Further to this feedback, the service is now reaching out to SMEs via social media.
With more and more business people using services like Twitter and LinkedIn to talk to peers and find information, the Health4Work have started to use these channels to get the word out about the free expert advice that’s on hand to deal with the most sensitive of issues.
Here are a list of frequent scenarios that, in particular, have affected small businesses in the past 12 months:
1. A team member is off on long-term sick: One of the team has been off work for just over a month. You are unsure what to do next, but want to be supportive while protecting your business.
2. The business is experiencing staff truancy: A member of your workforce is frequently off sick. They give you a variety of reasons, all seemingly plausible but you can’t help but wonder if they are always authentic.
3. Considering termination of employment due to chronic sickness: A staff member has a serious health problem which means they will be off work for the foreseeable future. You are now considering terminating their employment to protect your business.
4. Worries about a staff injury at work: The team say they are happy lifting heavy equipment some suffer from backache from time to time. You’d like to know if you would be liable if one of them sustained an injury.
5. Unsure if you can contact an employee’s G.P: You’d like to talk to an employee’s GP about a complicated health issue. You are not sure if you can to do this or if you should raise it with the employee.
6. A staff member has just been diagnosed with a serious health condition: You’ve just been told that an employee has a chronic health condition. You are naturally concerned and want to do what you can to help as an employer.
7. Want to check an applicant’s health before appointing them: You are about to begin a major recruitment drive and having had issues in the past with absenteeism. You would like to protect your business by checking if anyone you take on is fit to do the job.
8. Dealing with staff anxiety during this challenging time of recession: As a small business you are vulnerable during the financial downturn and your team is feeling increasingly stressed with financial worries at home. You want to help your staff to cope with this difficult time and ensure they stay motivated.
9. You think someone is not well enough to work: You suspect someone in your team is unwell but they continue to struggle on and come in to work. You have heard presenteeism can be as much of a problem as absenteeism but don’t know how to bring this up with them without causing offence.
10. You want to manage staff stress levels through a big change at work: Your small business is about to go through a major restructure of roles. You would like to support them and to help keep morale up at this stressful time.