You might be surprised by the impact that back issues could be having on your business.
One in every five office absences are caused by back pain and related illnesses – it’s the second-highest reason staff give for needing time off work, beaten only by minor illnesses like colds or stomach bugs.
This all adds up. Leaves of absence cost the UK economy £14.4bn last year. But it is businesses themselves, and particularly SME owners, that really feel the impact of absent staff.
As a society, we are far too laid-back when it comes to looking after our spines, both in dealing with seemingly minor or ongoing issues, and in taking preventative measures.
Many of us spend our working lives sitting at desks, and yet we fail when it comes to getting into a good habit with our posture.
Even before long-term issues arise which result in a leave of absence, back and posture-related problems can impact concentration, mood, and sleep. They can also cause stress, ultimately leading to poor productivity and reduced performance – not to mention the knock-on effects they can have on happiness in general.
With that in mind, here are some steps that companies and individuals can take to encourage healthier working lifestyles and prevent back issues from arising.
Stand up for what matters
Spending too much time staring at a screen is known for having negative effects on mood, mental health, and energy levels.
One fairly obvious solution is to take regular breaks from your desk. Something as simple as walking around the block can help reset the mind and renew focus. But it can also prevent issues, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, which is exacerbated by computer usage.
Break with convention
There are now so many alternatives to the traditional office furniture, and many are specifically designed to improve health issues that can arise from sedentary jobs.
Ergonomic chairs and inflatable exercise balls can help to improve posture, encouraging staff to sit upright.
Another other possible aid is a standing desk, which allows employees to remain on their feet through much of their working day. This improves concentration and decreases the effects of bad posture from slumping in chairs.
Give an arm and a leg
When jobs start to dominate our lives at the expense of personal time, something needs to give. A healthy work-life balance is essential for all of us to be productive in our jobs.
Exercise has an important role to play in this. Making the time to go to the gym is not always easy, but the benefits of an active lifestyle will have a significant, positive impact on both physical and mental health.
Don’t be spineless
Once back issues arise, they are very hard to shake. Many will attest to the fact that they can persist for years, and can prove to be highly debilitating.
The best way to tackle them is to try to prevent them, so getting into good habits early will hopefully save you a lot of pain in the long run.
There are also products that you can use to help yourself – such as a Posture Shirt, which can be worn under your work clothes to improve your posture as you sit in front of your computer.
Equally, if you are suffering from any back pain or issues, the sooner you seek expert advice the better – and employers should encourage this.
Physiotherapy and chiropractic treatments are not cheap, and forward-thinking companies will have health plans in place for their staff to benefit from.
Prioritising posture will prove to be a money-saver in the years to come.