National No Smoking Day: How quitting smoking helps businesses

March 8, 2017

On National No Smoking Day we asked for the low-down on quitting smoking, from a reformed smoker –  our HR Manager, Becky Mee. Becky kicked the habit and offers handy hints on how this is better for the person, team and business.

by Becky Mee

National No Smoking Day HR180

I admit it, I’m a reformed ‘Fag Ash Lil’. Plus I’m also one of those ex-smokers who has managed to quit by will power alone without the need of patches, gum or hypnosis (however, grumpiness was a side effect even I couldn’t avoid!) So, before you really start to hate me, in the spirit of National No Smoking Day, here are my handy hints on how kicking the habit can be so much better for your team and your business.

Smokers normally get short shrift due to the aroma from either stale smoke or the excess of perfume that’s been sprayed to cover up the smell, and from the ‘extra’ breaks they seem to get whilst feeding the habit. Though smoking is as good a way of gaining information as water cooler chat, talking over a cigarette can be just as dangerous as talking in the pub – with information being leaked or let out in the wrong way at the wrong time!

I really started smoking again whilst working overseas as the cigarettes were so inexpensive. However, as the HR Manager, this raised some interesting questions as my department was responsible for the overall welfare of all the employees on our site. We were offering a service by selling the cigarettes in the staff bar, but also seeing an increase in employees with respiratory and general health issues affecting their productivity. Smoking was becoming a hot topic and as a management team, we started to look at our whole approach to health and employee wellbeing.

We had the luxury of having a resident medical team who we could coordinate our approach with. We took October as the kick off for our own ‘Stoptober’ and organised a series of events at different times of day. These were scheduled to happen in back of house staff areas as well as out in the departments. Ranging from talks on the wider effects of smoking, through lung capacity checks and advice on how to stop smoking, to a ‘Biggest Quitter’ competition where we sponsored people to quit, we had a lot of overall interest.

So what worked well in terms of helping our employees to quit? When we spoke with the quitters at the end of the 3-month period, their feedback on the program was:

  • We had a support network around us.
  • We had a clear reason why we wanted to quit and we made it visual at the start of the process. One colleague had a picture of father holding her son as a baby in arms; her father died shortly after the picture was taken from lung cancer as he had been a heavy smoker all his life. She didn’t want history to repeat itself.
  • The medical team were more like mentors to us and held us accountable to our goal.
  • We celebrated successes of how many days without a cigarette.
  • We found a way to exercise together regularly.
  • We had access to tools to help us quit e.g. patches, gum, meditation and hypnosis sessions.

Now, not everyone has access to an in house medical team, but there are other resources available for you through the NHS website Your Occupational Health provider or a specialist employee wellbeing coaches can also support with materials or drop in sessions and these don’t have to cost the earth.

If you are looking for more help and support with your employee wellbeing strategy, we can help. Give us a call today!

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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