Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 15.41.52A North East employer’s commitment to improving the health and well-being of its County Durham workforce has been recognised with further success in a regional awards initiative.
Property and energy firm The Banks Group has achieved the Bronze level in the Better Health At Work Award, a partnership programme between all 12 North East local authorities, the TUC and local NHS providers, for its sites in Meadowfield and Thrislington.
The Bronze Award follows on from the Gold standard achieved last year for the family-owned firm’s sites in Northumberland after the completion of a three-year programme of events, workshops and health education sessions, and work is now underway to follow suit for its Durham operations.
The Better Health At Work programme aims to promote health and well-being in workplaces, and torecognise and celebrate the hard work and commitment of local employers making the effort to improve the health of their workplaces and their employees.
Five members of the Banks team in Durham have acted as internal health advocates as part of achieving the Award, helping to drive the project within the organisation and increasing their personal knowledge of health issues along the way.
The initiative requires organisations to prove they are not only promoting health among their workers, but to their families, fellow employers and the wider community as well, and to run at least five workplace health campaigns through the year, with topics including diabetes, healthy eating, weight loss, smoking cessation and cancer awareness covered by Banks over the last 12 months.
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.  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 annual health checks to their employees.
Sara Ellis, who is one of the project’s health advocates in Durham, says: “Taking part in this scheme makes sense from everyone’s point of view – the team 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 used a range of methods for sharing health information with our team in Durham, from holding well-attended lunchtime sessions on various different topics and making information available on the company intranet through to something as simple as leaving reading material on different health issues in our bathrooms and meeting rooms.
“We’ve had some very positive staff feedback on the work we’ve done so far and the impact it has had on their personal health and lifestyle choices, and are now continuing to work towards the higher standards offered by the Better Health At Work programme.”
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Catherine Fabi, health and safety coordinator at the Banks Group, adds: “There’s been a great deal of commitment shown to this scheme both by our County Durham team and the company as a whole, and reaching this landmark gives us fresh momentum towards doing even more.
“Just taking a few relatively simple steps towards improving the health of employees can result in benefits to an individual business, the wider North East economy and the quality of life of those living in the region, and we’d very much recommend other employers look at how they might get involved with this very worthwhile scheme.”