My own story
I was always a curious child. I loved to know what people did – the butcher, the baker and the man who sharpened knives. I waited for hours at the harbour in North Berwick in Scotland where we went on holiday every year, hoping that the pilot boat captain would take me on board when he went out to sea to drop the pilot off on the big ships in the Firth of Forth.
My interest in what people do led me to become a doctor and finding out about people's health. It was a window cleaner working on a high rise building platform who had a heart attack when I was a doctor at Guy's Hospital in London where I trained who led me to ask – “who helps him to get fit enough to get back to work again?”
My continuing curiosity led me into occupational health looking at the effect of health on work and work on health. I spent many happy and exciting years during my career at Marks & Spencer's Head Office in London, latterly as Chief Medical Officer.
When I first joined, I worked as a store doctor advising Human Resource managers on how best to help employees back to work after sick leave. I later spent 7 years introducing occupational health to suppliers in both textile and food factories in the UK, Europe, Israel and the USA .
Arising from the needs of employees in textile factories and working with an ergonomist from Loughborough University, we designed a chair for the machinists. This same chair was later trialed in Marks & Spencer's stores at the food tills were they remain today with some modifications!
Later, as a result of the introduction of the food till chair and working with an organizational psychologist, we identified the need to develop a system for problem solving at food tills in stores. This system proved successful and was later introduced to all stores throughout the UK to provide problem solving techniques for a range of other store problems.
When I was seconded to be the Senior Mental Health Fellow in Occupational Mental Health at the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, I led an educational initiative for occupational physicians which culminated in the publication of the book "Work and Mental Health –an employer's guide". I co-edited the book with Dr Paul Litchfield, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Well-being, Inclusion, Safety and Health for the BT Group and Dr Maurice Lipsedge, consultant psychiatrist at Guys Hospital.
Each chapter was written by an occupational physician and a consultant working in a particular aspect of mental health. This was the start of the concept of "we're all in this together," with different disciplines writing each chapter together.
Employee benefits in Marks and Spencer, with a particular requirement to consider eldercare needs, involved me in working with benefits consultants. The work environment in Head Office became another focus on how a healthy environment created more productive employees.
My new book touches on all the aspects of my career leading to creating my unique R-O-P-E system™, which underscores the book's theme and title -
The Healthy Business Bridge
How employee health creates business wealth
In this book, the R-O-P-E system™ will help business owners to optimize the health of their employees and the health of their business to create healthier and more productive employees, greater profits and enhanced branding. The system demonstrates how one can take the business from where it is now to where it wants to be.
The excitement for me of visiting a business today remains as great as when I first visited Marks and Spencer's suppliers' factories all those years ago and seeing the opportunities for enhancing employee health to create business wealth.