Lessons in safety
11 February 2021
Dee Arp talks about the benefits of wellbeing and what organisations should consider to effectively support their people.
ANY HEALTH and safety professional knows that when we look after our people we are also looking after our business. For me, one thing that is sometimes forgotten is ‘wellbeing’. There are a huge range of wellbeing interventions that we, as safety professionals, can put in place beforehand to prevent a crisis where first aid or reactive action is required.
Wellbeing is quite hard to define, probably because it covers a huge range of interconnected factors – a Google search will give you multiple definitions – but I think the Oxford English Dictionary sums it up well: the state of being healthy, happy or prosperous; physical, psychological or moral welfare.
When people are supported and well, staff turnover can decrease, employee satisfaction rates can increase, productivity can rise, and people can be more resilient to change and adversity. That’s not to say people are expected to be infallible but that by having effective wellbeing support, employees can better cope with significant and unusual situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic we are currently experiencing.
NEBOSH wellbeing tree
In Working with Wellbeing, NEBOSH’s new one-day qualification, we identify and explore six interconnected branches which contribute to the overall wellbeing of people. They are:
Our social interactions and relationships with those around us. This includes colleagues at work, family, friends and those we interact with in our local community. Social relationships are important for our mental health. Although we are all different, spending time with people who are important to us, has been shown to be beneficial to our wellbeing.
Getting active! This could be anything from a light walk to running, cycling, dancing or playing games that get you moving. Regular exercise benefits our physical and mental health in many ways, including lower levels of anxiety, cardiovascular health, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes to name just a few.
This is about being aware of the here and now; this branch of wellbeing involves taking the time to notice our surroundings and be present in the moment. In our busy lives we often rush about, our minds full of numerous thoughts, feelings and worries (what we need to do next, what’s happening tomorrow …), and we don’t stop to take notice of the present. Taking notice and being aware of the present moment has been shown to enhance our wellbeing.
Healthy eating is well known to be beneficial to our physical health, however it is now recognised that a healthy diet can also be beneficial to our mental health and wellbeing. Eating a wide variety of foods in healthy proportions is often referred to as a ‘balanced diet’. Modern busy lifestyles mean we often consume more processed foods and our dietary habits have changed over time. People are generally eating more foods high in fat, sugar, and salt, and may not always eat sufficient fruit and vegetables, or take in enough fibre.
This branch of wellbeing is all about helping, sharing, being friendly and considerate and giving to other people such as a colleague, family member, friend or even a complete stranger. Kindness, however, is also about taking the time to be kind to yourself. In addition to helping others, being kind can help our own wellbeing by positively influencing each of the following aspects of our life such as mood, self-esteem, happiness, identity and optimism.
Research has shown that learning can help us maintain and improve our levels of wellbeing. This includes gaining new skills, expanding our knowledge, taking on new responsibilities or experiencing something new. Learning new things often involves us being around other people which in turn increases our level of interaction and can lead to forming new social groups. When we learn, we are concentrating on the task in hand which helps us to be ‘in the present moment’ (mindfulness).
NEBOSH Working with Wellbeing can be studied through NEBOSH’s global network of accredited Learning Partners, offering options for both online and classroom learning. For more information about NEBOSH Working with Wellbeing visit: www.nebosh.org.uk/workingwithwellbeing
Dee Arp is chief operating officer at NEBOSH. For more information, visit www.nebosh.org.uk