Matt Bazeley: "We must work smarter on workplace well-being"

The chief executive of the Civil Service Sports Council (CSSC) on an urgent call for a national strategy to address the national health crisis and tackle absenteeism
Matt Bazeley

Last year had the UK’s worst employee sickness absence ever. There are 11.2 million interactions between the public and the NHS each week, and one in four adults will have to deal with a serious medical condition. Obesity is becoming the national norm. The health of the nation is in crisis, and it is only going to get worse. 

Something’s got to change. The government has recently announced its National Activity strategy. A somewhat underwhelming effort to increase activity (the nature of which is not defined) in 2.5 million adults and 1 million children by 2030.  But without a focused, structured and resourced approach, this will struggle to deliver even modest change. 

So what is the impact on businesses, and why must they step up? The annual cost of absenteeism is increasing year on year. Whether it’s due to physical illness, care responsibilities or mental health issues, the financial implications are staggering and go beyond the balance sheet, it also takes a toll on morale, engagement and overall wellbeing.  

At CSSC (Civil Service Sports Council), we provide the opportunity for our 130,000 members from across the UK’s Civil Service and public sector (the nation’s true champions) to enjoy and benefit from sports, exercise, well-being, leisure and savings on a wide range of goods and services.

Throughout February, we ran our annual Active Wellbeing event.  This has seen over 13,000 members participate in a month-long activity challenge designed to remove everyday barriers to exercise.  But we’re just scratching the surface in terms of health impact. Where’s the national effort?  We need a clearly defined and measurable approach across the public, private and third sectors, with the adoption of a collective and resourced programme for all. 

Employers need to work with the sports and physical activity sector to enable and support employee access. We need a working population that is ‘up, out and active’, with a focus on removing all barriers to individual and collective movement. There is a lot of evidence that an employee who feels healthy and active is happier, better connected, requires less time off for sickness and is more productive. 

At the same time, the sports and physical activity sector needs to find mechanisms, facilities and resources within a cost model that encourages access and take up. It will only be through such a collaborative approach that the nation can hope to see a scale of employee engagement and activity that revives the health and well-being of the nation. A win for the individual, the NHS, the economy and their employer. 

Read the most recent articles written by Civil Service Sports Council - UK government’s chief people officer backs CSSC’s Active Wellbeing campaign


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