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RIPH takes the lead in workplace health training

Royal Institute Of Public Health : 03 April, 2008  (Company News)
The Royal Institute of Public Health is taking the lead in the arena of workplace health by offering programmes of training and qualifications to forward thinking employers and the RIPH points out that the business case for such training has now been backed by a major case study from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
The cost of employee sickness and absenteeism is high on the agenda of most businesses, together with confusion about how best to tackle it and whether investment in tackling it can be fully justified.

On March 17, 2008 Dame Carol Black published her review of the health of Britain’s working age population, ‘Working for a Healthier Tomorrow’, and called for an urgent, comprehensive reform and a new approach to health and work in Britain. The review states that employers should offer more support to staff, including healthy lifestyle promotion and access to occupational health teams.

As part of Dame Black’s review, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was commissioned to consider the wider business case and specifically the economic case for employers to invest in wellness programmes for their staff (Ref 1).

The evidence suggests that wellness programmes have a positive impact in areas such as staff turnover and productivity, and that programme costs quickly translate to financial benefits through cost savings or additional revenue generation. For many employers the costs of ill-health are likely to increase if they do nothing, given the ageing population and increase in chronic disease.

Nicki Alvey, RIPH development manager, said: “Since RIPH launched its ‘Understanding Health Improvement’ qualification, which is supported by the Department of Health, and which recognises and rewards workplace health champions, employers of all sizes have been asking how they can justify their investment in improving the health and wellbeing of staff in the workplace. It is great that an independent business case is now available.”

The PwC case also supports the workplace health champion model by stating that a health advisor, wellness champion or some other form of continuous support will help increase employee engagement. The report additionally provides guidance on financial evaluation of wellness programmes.

Professor Richard Parish, chief executive of the RIPH, commented: “Health and well-being is a full time job. As an estimated 60 percent of our waking hours are spent in the workplace, it is here we need health champions to promote healthy lifestyles, and work with employers to demolish the barriers to health and to build a healthy workforce from within.”

The RIPH Level 2 ‘Understanding Health Improvement’ training course and qualification is available through a growing number of RIPH approved training providers.

Ref 1 - The PwC report, ‘Building the Case for Wellness’
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