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Wellbeing At Work: No Longer A Fad Or Fiction.

May 10, 2018

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Wellbeing At Work: No Longer A Fad Or Fiction.

Joe Gaunt, Founder and CEO of hero talks us through the importance of investing in corporate wellbeing. 

There is a growing evidence base to show that we can no longer ignore workforce wellness and wellbeing.  Up to 40 per cent of the UK workforce’s sickness absence is due to mental ill health, with one in six working aged people experiencing mental ill health at any given time. Presenteeism is also an increasing issue for organisations where employees are at work but are under-productive due to poor emotional wellbeing or worse absenteeism.  We know sickness absence costs on average £692 per employee per year and presenteeism approximately £15bn annually to the UK economy. 

Technology is a factor which has led to some wellness issues in our workforce.  It enables employees being accessible around the clock with employers demanding more and more employees’ time and commitment out of normal office hours.

It’s all to play for when it comes to corporate health and wellbeing.  It’s an issue rising-up the boardroom agenda and affecting businesses large and small.

There is a challenge when it comes to corporate wellness programmes, which is especially true in large organisations and this is personalisation.  A clear and emerging theme from wellness best practice is that employees desire and require a personal experience. What works for one employee won’t for another.  Think about the make up of your team. Everyone is different and have different strengths and weaknesses.  We therefore can’t expect one off the shelf programme to suit your entire workforce – no matter how small they are.  The Willis Towers Watson 2017 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey revealed that most employees (73%) say they prefer to manage their health and wellbeing on their own but that two-thirds of employees around the globe agree that employers have a role to play in encouraging them to live healthier lifestyles.

It’s important organisations recognise that wellness isn’t just about another weekly fruit box or gym memberships.  Physical wellbeing is important but psychological health is equally important, and good quality corporate wellness programmes will include resources for employees to seek help, support and advice.

The one thing that is central to the success of any corporate wellness programme is technology.  Although it’s sometimes referenced as the cause of some wellness issues,if it’s utilised correctly it can be the solution.  To begin with technology will help organisations understand the wellbeing landscape when they conduct a wellbeing audit or discovery report.  And it is vital that this is carried out.  It ensures the entire company is surveyed and the organisation understands where the issues are, what the trigger points are for the issues and what worries the workforce has.

From this standing start the company can look to offer a range of services, resources and tools, which allow employees to be empowered find the support and resources they need to support them the most.  Employers should be looking to offer a good mix of company-wide initiatives to complement this. Every employee’s journey to a healthier lifestyle is unique, and it should be treated as such.

The best corporate wellness programmes are meaningful and stem from a clear, well thought out strategy with KPIs, which are measured regularly.  Digital platforms should be used to create and enable personalised experience for employees.  Technology can also be used to connect employees with similar health and wellness interests as well as supporting and reward individual progress. Employers can expect to see higher participation rates with a more personalised approach to employee wellness.

Why invest in corporate wellness?

It makes sense both ethically and financially to invest in corporate wellness.  There is a growing bank of evidence which supports the belief that a healthy and happy workforce equates to a happy and healthy balance sheet in other words – happy me, happy we.

Investing in a corporate wellness scheme will decrease absenteeism among employees. If employees are taking less time off due to sickness they are also not attempting to work whilst they are feeling ‘under the weather’ so job performance will improve. One study found employees who participated in a health promotion programme and improved their health care or lifestyle regained an average of 10.3 hours in additional productivity annually and saved their companies an average of $353 per person per year in productivity costs compared to non-participants.

It’s not just performance, which wellness programmes have a positive impact on. Employees who are healthier, feel better, have more energy, are less stressed aren’t going to look to leave an employer who has helped, supported and encouraged them to achieve all this.  Corporate wellness programmes also do wonders to help employee retention. Any good wellness programme will also strengthen the bond and commitment of teams.  Programmes that enable individual and wider company initiatives will naturally build a stronger work ethic and bond, which will in turn have a positive impact on job performance.    

A successful organisation will go on a journey with their teams, which will see education, information sharing, recognition and reward as part of the strategy.

Corporate wellness programmes make sense and is a trend which is gaining momentum. Any new or re-invigorated wellness programme should come from a well thought out and measured strategy. Each business is different, and each workforce faces different challenges.

The ROI or the value of investment (VOI) should and will differ from company to company. But it’s vital evaluation takes place on a regular basis.  Using a digital platform will help with this and ensure visibility. The platform will enable you to see who is engaging with this and what impact that is having on the overall business.          

It's an exciting time for corporate wellness and wellbeing and it has the potential to make a huge difference to the performance of an organisation.

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