February 2, 2015 | Community News
A North East company’s commitment to improving the health and well-being of its workforce has been recognised with one of the highest achievements in a regional awards initiative.
Property and energy firm The Banks Group has achieved the Gold level in the Better Health At Work Award, a partnership programme between all 12 North East local authorities, the TUC and local NHS providers.
The programme aims to promote health and wellbeing in workplaces, and to recognise and celebrate the hard work and commitment of local employers making the effort to improve the health of their workplaces and their employees.
The Banks Group is one of 16 regional employers to achieve the Gold Award in 2014, which requires organisations to prove they are not only promoting health among their workers, but to their families, fellow employers and the wider community, too.
They are also required to run at least five workplace health campaigns. Banks chose to cover topics including diabetes, hydration, healthy eating, smoking cessation and cancer awareness.
Participating companies must also have at least a three-year health strategy and one-year action plan for health improvement activities in place and offer employees annual health checks.
The scheme provides tangible benefits for everyone involved, with employees benefiting from access to a wide range of health support services in their local area and companies benefiting from implementing a health framework which enables them to bring together health activities in a structured way.
Four Banks staff members signed up as internal health advocates as part of the Award. The health advocates helped to drive the project within the organisation, increasing their personal knowledge of health issues along the way.
Specific assessment criteria are set for every level of Better Health At Work accreditation, with an on-site assessment carried out by the Award’s local co-ordinator. The assessments are comprised of a comprehensive evidence portfolio review and face-to-face interviews with employees regarding workplace activities around health and wellbeing.
Banks reached the initial Bronze standard in 2012 before going on to reach the Silver level at the end of 2013.
Mike Peeke, who is a health advocate at Banks, says: “Taking part in this scheme makes sense from everyone’s point of view – our workforce gains greater awareness of health issues and practical help in improving their own and their families’ well-being, and the company gets improved employee morale through the changes that are put in place.
“We’ve had some very positive outcomes from the campaigns we’ve run, with a number of our people telling us they’ve lost weight and got fitter as a result, while others going on to raise health concerns with their GPs which might otherwise not have been addressed so quickly.
“The whole company has been really positive about this project ever since we first signed up to it three years ago, and reaching the Gold standard is due reward for all the hard work, thought and effort that’s gone into bringing it to life since then.”
Steven Chater, health improvement specialist at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, adds: “We are thrilled that The Banks Group have achieved their gold award and are delighted that so many local employers have demonstrated their commitment to the health and well-being of their employees.
“People spend a great deal of time in the workplace, making it one of the most important places to get advice about healthier lifestyles. Evidence shows that workplace health programmes like ours can help to reduce sickness absence, as well as motivating and helping to retain staff. It’s good for everyone.”
Catherine Fabi, health and safety coordinator at the Banks Group, says: “Our people are our greatest asset and the key to our business success, so it’s only common sense to take steps like this to improve their health and well-being.
“Just taking a few relatively simple steps towards improving the health of employees can result in benefits to business, the economy of the region and the quality of life of those who live in the North East, and we’d very much recommend other local firms looking at how they might get involved with this very worthwhile scheme.”