• Ali H.

The rise of workplace wellbeing as an integral part of CSR strategy

Workplace health and wellbeing is in an exciting position in 2020. It is undeniably important considering the scale of the challenges we are facing in relation to mental ill health, non-communicable disease, sickness absence, presenteeism and the newly dubbed leaveism. Moreover, we are seeing an entwinning relationship between global health, regional public health and workforce health and wellbeing. However, as workplace health and wellbeing is moving up the corporate agenda, some organisations still consider it as a nice to have and miss significant advantages. So, what opportunities are ahead in aligning Corporate Social Responsibility and Workplace Health and Wellbeing?

There is often an unnoticed link between organisational culture, and its impact on employee health and wellbeing. Let us consider the role Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has in the context of integrated health management. Whilst CSR offers many definitions, broadly speaking it is concerned with the integration of economic, social, environmental, and ethical priorities onto the organisations agenda, both internally into the organisation and externally targeted towards out of organisation initiatives. Increasingly, we are seeing CSR as a catalyst for strategic health initiatives. Organisations that do this well, are often those considered 'employers of choice' in doing so, these organisations go above and beyond their legal requirements.

Why does health and wellbeing sit well with CSR?

Management of workplace health and wellbeing is not solely confined to just organisational legal obligations, it is also about embedding the right ethics and values in business leaders, which is a fundamental part of any modern organisation and its success. This further resonates with executive leaders, as many organisations that integrate health management into their cultural norms are often front runners in the marketplace. High performance workplaces recognise the need for embedded ethics and values, but also go a step further by ensuring their people are enabled and connected. By doing so, we can start to explore shared values that connect purpose.

Development of Health and Wellbeing CSR

Workplace health improvement at any intervention level, takes careful planning and must align to organisational strategy, support the people agenda and connect with existing management systems. A wide variety of stakeholders should be involved, and organisations should ensure it is underpinned with clear theory and appropriate data.

The workplace as a catalyst to support sustainability

There is also the opportunity to take workplace health and wellbeing CSR a step further. The relationship between good work and good health is well evidenced, but we see less organisational focus on the workplace as a springboard to tackle global health challenges. The World Health Organisation (WHO) set out that the workplace is a priority setting for the improvement of global health challenges. Further work needs to be explored to establish these programmes and drive relevant policy changes that facilitate improvement at the global level. In the interim, organisations can get started by developing validated health improvement agendas, and connect workplace health and wellbeing and CSR strategy.

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