Wellbeing In The Workplace: Are You Fit For Business?
Wellbeing is increasingly featuring on the agenda of employers and employees alike, with countless studies indicating a direct correlation between the happiness of a workforce and the subsequent success of the business. As a result, many organisations already have structured wellbeing strategies in place that range from encouraging healthy eating and fitness to formalised occupational health services. Given that absenteeism costs UK businesses more than £15 billion every year, improving employee health and wellbeing can have a positive impact on your company’s finances, as well as increasing productivity and engagement in the workplace.
The NHS, for example, recently announced the launch of a new £5 million health and wellbeing initiative for its 1.3 million health service staff. The new programme will be based around three pillars: a drive for improved staff health; occupational health services for GPs; and healthier food and nutrition. Estimates put the cost to the NHS of staff absence due to poor health at £2.4bn a year, so in comparison, the cost of implementing the scheme is absolutely a worthwhile investment.
This is undoubtedly a sizeable task, but there are also a huge number of organisations with fewer staff that could benefit from similar initiatives on a smaller scale.
A joint venture between Vitality Health, Mercer and the Telegraph is the Britain’s Healthiest Company Awards 2015. The first of its kind in the UK, the scheme seeks to explore the wellbeing of Britain’s employees. The awards are based on research from 111 companies across the UK, with 32,538 employees voluntarily submitting responses to surveys on all aspects of wellbeing. These awards take into consideration small, medium and large corporations, ranging from 50 to 1000+ employees.
Winner of the Healthiest Employees category as a small business (50-250 employees), Sanofi Pasteur MSD, goes out of its way to encourage lunch-break activities. The latest project at their head office is Midday Mile Walks, which one-third of employees will be taking part in and there are now plans to introduce a lunchtime yoga class.
Sweaty Betty, winner of the same category as a medium sized organisation (250-999 employees) offer employees flexible working hours, an on-site gym and tax breaks on bicycles as some of their health-boosting benefits.
At the other end of the scale is Johnson & Johnson, winner of Britain’s Healthiest Company as a large organisation (1000+) who have a long history of caring for the health of their employees. Johnson & Johnson have developed a company-wide health and wellbeing strategy, incorporating a variety of programmes. These include the ‘Make It Count’ programme, which empowers staff to monitor, manage and understand their blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) and cholesterol. The ‘Energy for Performance in Life’ programme encourages employees to learn how to manage their energy levels efficiently to tackle challenges in their work and personal life.
In addition, Johnson & Johnson offers a range of policies and benefits including: private health care; flexible working; ergonomic workstations; on-site fitness centres and the provision of free fresh fruit and filtered water.
These are just a few examples of how the company looks after its people. Johnson & Johnson recognises that there are many other ways to support the wellbeing, health, energy levels and sense of work-life balance of its people. These have all been captured in the company’s ‘Little Book of Wellness’ which is distributed to all UK employees across the three sites.
Whether a comprehensive strategy is in place, or an employer is making small steps to adjust for the good of the team, overall the return on investment is clear. Tony Wood, UK leader of employee health & benefits, Mercer, said:
“We now have direct evidence to prove organisations who invest in the health of their people have a competitive advantage. The top 20pc of organisations in Britain’s Healthiest Company 2015 had 41pc less lost productivity than the lowest 20pc of organisations. This should place wellness firmly on the agenda of business leaders.”
Ultimately, employees who believe their employer cares about their wellbeing have been proven to be more engaged at work than the average worker. The companies performing best in the awards had a 24% lower cost of lost productivity compared with the worst-performing companies. By looking after their workforce, they looked after the bottom line.
Internally, we are making our own changes – with a relocation around the corner we have a new, much more open plan office awaiting us. We have ensured that there is a shower on the premises so that team members who run or cycle to work are able to refresh before they start the day. We also currently have a pool table on our sales floor, which we find really helps the team to unwind and even encourages collaboration as the sales and customer experience executives will share thoughts over a game. This will soon be joined by a ping pong table, which we’re hoping will produce the same results, but with more energy. Furthermore, as we will no longer be surrounded by cafés, restaurants and shops, the prospect of returning from lunch with a 24 pack of donuts will be a thing of the past!
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Author: Tilly Hetherington
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