Limbering up for our September focus on physical health

5th September 2022 Posted by

Blog by Dr Tracey Leghorn, Chief Human Resources and Health and Safety Officer, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK.

Over the last three years we have done a lot of work supporting our people’s mental health. As we’re all now so much more aware, mental health is a space that has long been neglected by society, the health service, employers and even ourselves as individuals. However, mental health was uppermost in the minds of our employees when they drew up our Wellness for All charter in 2019 with its eight wellbeing domains (one being mental health). This priority proved prescient, given the uncertainty and anxiety unleashed amid the pandemic.

That support continues through our Wellness for All programme, but we feel the time is right to continue to expand our focus more on the other side of the mens sano in corpore sano (‘healthy mind in a healthy body’) equation.

It’s not that we’ve neglected physical health – our wellness webinars have featured subjects ranging from healthy eating to the restorative powers of exercise, including walking in the park or other green spaces. This year, our webinar schedule has included a ‘Monthly Move’ session, encouraging people to get into the habit of being active. These 30-minute broadcasts promote activities such as yoga and tai chi.

In September we are upping the pace for Physical Health Month. From 6 September, we’re rolling out our Health and Wellbeing Roadshow. At six SUEZ recycling an recovery UK sites across the company’s four regions, employees will be able to take a free ‘MoT health check’.

The roadshow will be run by our occupational health service provider Wellness International, with support from our regional Wellbeing and Inclusion Ambassador volunteers, and our local HR teams. The checks provided will test BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and score people’s cardiac risk. They’ll also be conducting a lifestyle survey. Based on its findings and feedback to this trial roadshow, we will decide on future similar physical wellbeing initiatives but we really hope that our September programme will increase conversations about physical health.

Throughout September we will be sharing resources that can help anyone within the company who wants to start improving their physical health. These include healthy meal recipes and workout videos available through our employee benefits portal, You@SUEZ. There will be guidance too on blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose/diabetes, and the benefits of different types of physical activity. Those willing to consider trying out the gym may be swayed by discounted memberships.

Webinars have proved a popular channel with many of our employees, and their families. So, we have scheduled one on the theme of health for the over-50s, while Sue Judge – a trained nutritionist from Infinite Wellbeing – will present another webinar on heart health.

Heart health is an area where we can perform a public service as part of our commitment to social value, as well as safeguarding our employees. In line with this, we are expanding our network of defibrillators. More than eighty SUEZ sites are equipped with an automatic external defibrillator (AED). We are in the process of distributing another 160 around the country, so there will be nearly a quarter of a million in place across our sites by the end of the year!

As these units are registered with the Circuit Network in conjunction with St John’s Ambulance, they can be accessed by anyone in an emergency. We have committed to always dispatch a suitably trained member of our team to support the person who will be using a defibrillator, whether it’s a colleague or member of the public.

We are also training our people in the use of AEDs. Our internally created video, that is available on YouTube, instructs viewers how to perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) when someone suffers cardiac arrest. All our senior managers completed their training in March this year, in preparation for the defibrillator rollout. As we recruit drivers, they too will join our first aiders and other designated responders by completing the defib module that has been added to our in-house Driver Certificate of Competence (CPC) course.

This summer’s high temperatures have heightened awareness of the health risks people can face from dehydration and sunstroke to breathing difficulties and heart failure. On a happier note, it’s also been a long hot summer for sports fans – from the annual obsession with Wimbledon and test cricket to the great excitement and joy generated by the Lionesses on the soccer pitch.

We hope the sports fever will inspire more employees to take part in a series of sporting challenges we are planning at our sites during the month of September. To quote the Olympic founder Pierre de Coubertin’s motto, the most important thing is not winning, but taking part.

When it comes to occupational health, as an employer we want to be actively encouraging our people to look after their physical health. But that means winning hearts and minds, so they are motivated to look after their bodies too.

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