Healthy living course cuts staff absence

Staff absence in a hectic council department has taken a massive dip since workers were taught to chill out and eat healthily on a £80,000 training course.

Staff absence in a hectic council department has taken a massive dip since workers were taught to chill out and eat healthily on a £80,000 training course.

Trainee managers in King's Lynn were shown how meditation, mineral water and nutritious snacks could help them concentrate and create a calmer atmosphere in the office.

Now West Norfolk Council believes the holistic course may have sparked a turnaround for the revenues department, which often deals with stressful situations and angry customers.

Absence figures among the 142 staff have reduced "significantly" compared with April to July last year, with short-term sickness down by 71pc.


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The 24 delegates who enrolled on the course still have a way to go before their training finishes in December, but head of revenues Gareth Evans believes it has already reaped dividends.

"The programme is about much more than just seeking to reduce sickness absence," he said.

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"It does seem, though, that the training and raising awareness across the division is showing results.

"This equates to a saving in lost time of some £12,000 over the four months."

The course was funded by £80,000 from the Department for Work and Pensions - the equivalent of more than £3,300 for each person.

Mr Evans added that it included traditional management skills but was fundamentally different from the usual scheme.

"The beginning of the course focused specifically upon managing yourself, self-awareness, motiv-ation and wellbeing," he said.

"Staff were taught about coping with stress, relaxation and meditation skills, the importance of diet, and the importance of having a strong work ethic and a healthy work-life balance.

"We considered it could genuinely change people's lives and, at the same time, bring real benefits for the division and the council."

The innovative training prog-ramme has now been recognised nationally and the council has been shortlisted for an excellence award from the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation.

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