Predictions for 2011

With the Government attempting to measure the happiness of UK citizens, The Alcumus Group looks towards 2011 and wonders whether we can hope to be a happier and healthier nation

Often without realising it, we all bring influences from our personal life into the workplace. Things that cause us stress and unhappiness at home can lead us to be anxious and vulnerable to the pressures at work that can lead to work-related stress.

Of course, just being in work can do a huge amount to improve our sense of well being and that of our families. On the whole, work is good for your health and well-being providing financial and personal security, as well as a sense of purpose and achievement.

Will the Government’s measurement of happiness give an indication of the levels of well being in the workplace?

Work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 9.8m working days lost in 2009/10. On average, each person suffering from work-related stress took an estimated 22.6 days off so by encouraging us to be happier, the Government might help businesses to be more profitable.

As individuals we can all do a great deal to improve our own happiness ratings, through regular exercise, healthy eating, getting enough sleep and avoiding the overuse of alcohol. Reducing the risks that can lead to work related stress is a legal requirement but all too often, individuals and organisations don’t acknowledge the affects of either personal or workplace stress. It is important to realise that ignoring it won’t make it go away and will adversely affect both the health and the bottom line of the business.

Dealing with work related stress needs an organisation-wide approach starting in the boardroom. Our experience shows that by identifying stressors that can lead to workplace stress – such as excessive workloads, availability of support, evidence of harassment or bullying – then controlling the associated risk by providing sensible tools, line managers and staff will be bolstered in their ability to cope with stress, whether personal or work related.

So it’s all about a collaborative approach. As individuals we should each set ourselves a personal New Year’s resolution to do more to raise our happiness ratings – join a new sports club, find time to relax at home and look for healthy options at the supermarket. As employers we should start the New Year by taking a fresh look at our workplace, encourage active discussion with our teams to identify any pressure points and work in partnership with our employees to put in place the practical solutions that will encourage a happy and productive working environment.”