The rise of ‘presenteeism’ in UK workplace
A study by UK-based health insurer Vitality has found that more than 40 percent of employees said their work was being affected by health problems — a figure that’s risen by a third over the last five years.
It found that people are putting aside both mental and physical health problems to attend work, BBC wrote.
And in its recent annual Health and Well-Being at Work Survey Report the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) also found evidence of unhealthy trends in the workplace.
The CIPD said more than four-fifths (83 percent) of its respondents had observed presenteeism in their organization, and a quarter (25 percent) said the problem had got worse since the previous year.
Sarah Mitchell-Hume didn’t know anything about mental health when she had a panic attack at her desk.
She was two years into her career in engineering recruitment, a job she absolutely loved, when she suddenly became unwell. Sarah was diagnosed with depression.
“I felt pressurized to go back to work, even though I was signed off sick,” she recalled.
“I was physically present but mentally I wasn’t doing anything. And I’d just zone out, there was nothing going on behind my eyes. I think I just cleared my inbox every day. It made me more ill. I should’ve been at home recovering.”
Aged 24, she was just starting her career when she felt like it had come to an end.
If you break a leg, it’s clear you need time off. Having a mental illness or suffering from workplace stress can be harder to spot. But Vitality’s research has shown that these are the biggest factors behind the growing problem of people turning up for work when they’re not fit enough to do their jobs.
Vitality runs an annual survey, Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, involving 167 organizations and 32,000 staff. The aim is to understand and tackle poor health and wellbeing across the UK workforce.
Presenteeism is a clear and accelerating trend. It’s just one of a number of studies which have come to the same conclusion.
It’s obvious that if we’re not at our best, then we’re less productive employees.
When Dale Garbacki lost his wife in 2014, he hit rock
bottom. He was her main carer as well as trying to hold down a full time job in technical support for Dixons Carphone.
“Productivity dropped to what I call bare minimums,” he now admits.
“I’d had several warnings. By finally reaching out to the company and having a private chat with one of my managers, about how I was feeling and what I was going through at home, the loss of my wife, he said ‘ah, why didn’t you tell me sooner. We’ll need to get you some help’.”
Whilst Mitchell-Hume felt she had no support in her workplace and ultimately left her job, Garbacki started a work sponsored fitness program to help him turn things around.
He runs before work in his local park in Preston as well as working out in the company gym.
“I’m definitely a lot better than I was. Overall I feel better in myself. I have more positive and confident feelings and I actually look forward to each day.”
He has now earned his first ever full bonus.
‘Good business sense’
His employer has been on a journey, too. Dixons Carphone’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Kesah Trowell, had her work cut out trying to persuade her company to sponsor one of the UK’s biggest long distance treks or runs, the Race to the Stones.
It proved a huge success with its workers who took part, kick starting a raft of other wellbeing initiatives including Garbacki’s bootcamp program.
“It really does make good business sense,” said Trowell.
“It’s important that we have happy, healthy and an engaged workforce, particularly since we’re in a retail environment.”
She added: “Technology makes it easy for people to hide behind their desks, their computers or their phones. It’s easier for more presenteeism than their would’ve been a few years ago. That’s why it’s important for us to manage this.”
Could reducing presenteeism help solve the UK’s chronic productivity puzzle?
“Absolutely,” said Vitality’s chief executive Neville Koopwitz.
Productivity is the main driver of long-term economic growth and living standards. But our workers aren’t anything like as efficient as they should be.
“Workplace stress and mental wellbeing has a massive impact. We believe presenteeism is the key issue to Britain’s productivity problem, where people are at work and not performing in an optimal way,” Koopwitz said.
Mitchell-Hume does freelance and voluntary work now as well as being a busy mother. She’s happy but she just wishes her employer had handled things differently.
“It was so incredibly difficult. A bit of compassion, empathy and flexibility would’ve made all the difference,” she said.
“The workplace can be a tough place to be. There’s so much more to be done to look after employees.”
British scientists on the cusp of curing blindness with pioneering treatment
Victims of a devastating form of blindness have been given hope by a new stem-cell treatment that rejuvenates the eyes.
There is no cure for retinitis pigmentosa (RP), an inherited condition that slowly constricts vision, but a British firm has reported early success with a revolutionary procedure that helps to repair a damaged retina, dailymail.co.uk wrote.
The treatment involves growing billions of ‘progenitor’ stem cells in a laboratory. These have the ability to transform themselves into other types of cell depending on where they are placed in the body.
A million stem cells are injected into the back of the patient’s eyeball. Once there, they transform themselves into new light-sensitive cells called rods and cones which replace those lost prematurely to genetic flaws.
Tests on three patients — two men and a woman — who were legally blind produced ‘exciting’ results, according to Olav Hellebo, chief executive of UK biotech firm ReNeuron.
Before the procedure, the three could read only the largest group of letters on a special eye test chart, but 18 days after being injected with the cells, their sight had improved to the point where they could read three letter sizes smaller.
One patient achieved sufficient progress to no longer be classified as legally blind and another told her doctor that she was able to see the food on her plate for the first time in years.
Hellebo told The Mail on Sunday: “We are obviously very excited. We have to bear in mind all the caveats — that these are results in only three patients and it is early days — but the reaction from ophthalmologists has been very encouraging.’
The three patients are all American but the development of the technology has been led by experts at ReNeuron in Bridgend, Wales. Nine more patients have been enrolled to test the procedure.
Hellebo said the woman, who had been ‘skeptical’ before the procedure, went from being able to see just nine letters on the eye test chart to 29. People are considered legally blind if they can read fewer than 36 letters on the 100-letter chart.
“She said she could now see the food on her plate, which is really motivating for us to hear,” he added.
The two men improved from nine to 24 letters and from 31 to 45.
RP, which affects up to 25,000 people in Britain, is caused by about 100 inherited genetic defects, sometimes alone and sometimes in combination.
Loss of vision can begin in childhood, adolescence or adulthood and starts with deteriorating night vision and peripheral vision which gradually narrows so only hazy tunnel vision eventually remains. Total blindness usually ensues.
Hellebo, whose company will present further information about the trial at the annual Retinal Cell and Gene Therapy Innovation Summit in Vancouver, Canada, this month, said: “It’s a horrible diagnosis because you know where it’s headed and there’s nothing you can do about it.’
Tina Houlihan, of the Retina UK charity which supports people with inherited sight loss, said: “These early results are encouraging and will provide hope to those living with retinitis pigmentosa. However, while the trial is at this very early stage, with only a very small number of patients involved, we are cautious in our optimism.”
We know that exercise is good for us, and many of us do some form of continuous exercise three to five days per week.
We exercise to get healthy, maintain good health, minimize morbidity (sickness and disease), as well as to add length to our life (longevity), jamaicaobserver.com wrote.
However, some of us also exercise with the aim of losing weight. While we will lose weight as long as we burn more calories than we consume, research has recently found that interval training may result in greater loss of weight than doing continuous exercise.
In this type of exercise, individuals alternate between different rates of speed or different degrees of effort. Also known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), one may combine periods of intense workout with periods of lower-level activity.
So if you normally do a brisk walk as exercise in the morning, you may want to do five minutes of brisk walking, alternating with two or three minutes of jogging or running.
If you cycle or swim, the pattern would be the same: Start with your usual pace, then increase it dramatically for a few minutes, then return to normal pace for a short while, and then alternating between both periodically.
The great thing about adding interval training to your workout routine is that, in addition to the greater weight loss, it helps you build both strength and endurance very quickly. Further, it may be easier for the elderly and for obese individuals to perform.
The researchers informed that interval training appears to promote many physiological changes that might favor long-term weight loss, including the up-regulation of important enzymes associated with fat breakdown. This occurs to a greater extent than with moderate-intensity continuous exercise.
The research team conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis (quantitative statistical analysis of several studies) of all such research, and compared weight loss with interval training and with moderate-intensive continuous training.
After pooling the results from more than 1,000 individuals, they found both interval training as well as moderate-intensive continuous training led to significant reductions in both total body fat percentage and total absolute fat mass.
However, interval training was associated with a reduction in total absolute fat mass, which was more than 28 percent greater than that seen with moderate-intensive training. Further, the greatest reductions were seen in sprint interval training.
Balancing risks and benefits
Individuals, however, should be aware of the possible risks of higher-intensity training. This training may increase the risk of injury when at the high-intensity level, as well as impose a higher level of cardiovascular stress.
Also, the potential discomfort associated with high-intensity training could affect individuals sticking with the program.
Nevertheless, interval training may be the better choice for obese and older people. For obese people, virtually every activity involves high intensity for them due to their low level of fitness and because they have to carry about a heavier load.
For older individuals, they may have difficulty sustaining exercise for longer periods, and so interval training offers a good alternative.
High, intensive interval training has also been shown to make comparable improvements in the sensitivity of insulin within the body and the reduction of blood pressure when compared to moderate-intensity continuous exercise — with comparable levels of enjoyment and adherence, and lower perceived exertion.
Further, research has found that interval training increases a person’s functional capacity, as well as parameters for health, more than does moderate-intensive continuous exercise.
In addition, the advantage of interval training is that it can be performed by almost everyone, with the reality that the ‘intensity’ is calculated individually.
For a healthy, young person, a sprint probably involves running at a fast pace, while for a frail, elderly person, slow walking might be enough. Individuals who have knee problems and are unable to run, may cycle or swim. If a person has heart disease, they may walk at a controlled intensity.
While most international guidelines recommend high exercise volumes for obesity management, including 150–250 minutes of exercise each week with up to 60 minutes per day of moderate-intensive exercise, few people meet these guidelines. Interval training has some benefits similar to moderate-intensive continuous exercise while requiring less time.
The research also found that among individuals who underwent interval training, factors that were associated with a reduction in the total absolute fat mass were supervised training, walking exercise, running or jogging, people whose age was younger than 30 years, and the exercise intervention lasting fewer than 12 weeks.
We all should therefore seek to do some form of high-intensive interval training, irrespective of our age, as we seek to achieve good health and add length and high quality to our lives!
A multi-state outbreak, in the US, of Salmonella may be linked to melon products. Caito Foods Company has recalled pre-cut watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe and mixed fruit, healthytopic.org wrote.