Good employers already know it’s important to have a diverse workforce, and that the contribution a person can make isn’t related to their colour, creed, gender, disability, outlook or background.
Former national director for health and work, Dame Carol Black, is now calling for people to add something to that list; health and wellbeing.
The co-author of last year’s government review of absence management and 2008’s Working for a Healthier Tomorrow report says that the stigma associated with long-term health conditions is still alive and well. Beating the stigma is vital if we’re going to help people with health problems stay in work.
Better support is clearly good for a person’s wellbeing and, as a result, their potential to be a happier, more productive and more valuable employee. More than that though, it’s good news for the business, which needs to think about diversity and inclusion within its workforce.
More and more, employers are going to need to address the challenges associated with an ageing and ailing workforce. A big part of this will be shifting people’s thinking – at all levels of the organisation – away from the outdated view that unless you’re 100 per cent fit, you don’t have anything to contribute. Chronic conditions are increasingly going to be something that people just manage as part of their working day.
So let’s drag the issue of health and wellbeing out of the occupational health “ghetto” that it can sometimes get stuck in, where it’s a problem for only the medical experts to deal with. Let’s get it into the mainstream so we can have an open debate about what the future workforce actually looks like.