Take your work to the workplaceJason Firmager
Consultant aromatherapist for Base Formula Ltd, Joannah Metcalfe, offers advice on how holistic therapy services can be provided to corporate clients
Even in today’s difficult economic climate forward thinking companies are recognising the importance of investing in the health and wellbeing of their staff in the belief that a happy and healthy workforce is a more motivated and productive workforce!
As companies strive to become leaner, and more efficient workers are being put under increased pressure to perform, with reduced staff numbers, longer working hours, additional responsibilities and reduced job security. This increased pressure and stress can have a serious effect on the employees’ health and wellbeing which, in turn, can impact on the business through decreased motivation and morale, reduced productivity and ultimately absenteeism due to sickness. The most recent data published by the Office of National Statistics shows 131 million working days were lost in 2011 due to sickness. A report by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests that absenteeism costs British businesses at least £32 billion per annum (this is conservative and only represents the direct costs of absenteeism).
So, how can businesses reduce this cost and improve the health, morale, motivation and ultimately the productivity of their workforce? The answer may just lie with therapists, including you and me.
I have worked as a Natural Health Practitioner for 25 years and been involved in various corporate organisations. And I have noticed a marked increase in businesses offering holistic therapy services over the last 10 years, particularly with companies that score highly with Investors in People. Initially it was for basic services like in-house back, neck and shoulder massage to help improve posture, ease aches and pains and to reduce the prevalence of RSI (repetitive strain injury) – typically for those sat in front of a computer screen all day.
Therapeutic services have now become more specific in their focus. Perhaps this is as a result of statistics becoming more readily available, or a desire from the more ethically run businesses to create a real feel good factor at work – with all the inherently positive ramifications for the business in general as well as the individuals in particular.
As an example I have been working with the well known regional brewer, Adnams, for 7 years now. We initially introduced regular weekly therapies provided on demand for any of their 300 workers. Therapies included Aromatherapy Massage, Reflexology, Indian Head Massage, Reflexology and Nutritional advice. Now, the services also include Vascular Health Checks (Cholesterol Tests, Blood Sugar, Liver Function Analysis and Blood Pressure) and hypnotherapy for smoking cessation and stress. Aromatherapy massage has remained one of the most popular therapies, perhaps due to its versatility – helping to relieve common work-related problems such aches, pains, tension, stress and anxiety.
At Adnams, the first consultation and treatment is paid for in full by the company. They then cover 50% of future treatment costs for the employee.
The most exciting aspect of this work is undoubtedly the ability of the therapist and the company to work together preventatively – often stopping minor health issues from becoming major issues for both the employee and the business. Other benefits include reduced absenteeism, reduced stress levels, increased concentration and productivity, increased morale and motivation and revitalised and healthier employees!
Michael Ladd from the Adnams HR team comments “We provide subsidised holistic therapy treatments because we want our people to feel healthy, happy and positive at work. Employees regularly tell us that they really appreciate the services we provide and that it helps keep them going, especially during seasonal peaks, when they feel rejuvenated and re-energised to meet the increased seasonal demands.”
Adnams were awarded the “Investors In People” Gold Award – and this was due in part to the range of holistic therapies provided for their staff. So, best practice involves the best that preventative medicine has to offer – and holistic therapies in the workplace clearly demonstrate real value for all concerned – the business, the employee and the therapist… so give it a try!
(Previously published in HTM print)