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The importance of health and work

Updated 8 January 2021

The health and work infographics summarise important data to provide a snapshot of the health and work landscape. This data is prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact is not reflected in it. They are intended to enable national and local stakeholders to understand, make the case for, and take action on addressing health, work and worklessness.

Employment is a primary determinant of health, impacting both directly and indirectly on the individual, their families and communities. Unemployment is associated with an increased risk of mortality and morbidity, including limiting illness, cardiovascular disease, poor mental health, suicide and health-damaging behaviours.

Evidence shows that a good working environment is good for health, and that a bad working environment (characterised by low levels of job control and organisational fairness, and a high effort-reward imbalance) may contribute to poor health. There is also evidence to show that healthier, active and engaged employees are more productive, have lower levels of sickness absence and presenteeism, creating a business imperative to take action as well as a public health one. Workplaces are a key setting for engaging adults in activities to improve their health and wellbeing to improve the health of the nation, and business productivity.

This is an important public health issue at both local and national level. It is highlighted in The NHS Long Term Plan and many local health and wellbeing strategies, devolution plans and NHS sustainability and transformation plans.

The infographics are intended to inform the local and national stakeholders. In particular for public health practitioners, local authorities and policy makers to make the case and inform planning on embedding health, work and worklessness within and across these issues.