Having recently attended REBA’s Employee Wellness conference, it became clear that the concept of ‘employee health in the workplace’ has become far more sophisticated in recent years. Future-thinking strategies are increasingly being implemented by businesses in order to improve both the physical and mental health of staff.
Previously, the term ‘health and wellbeing’ was measured simply by looking at the amount of days staff were off sick, and what this meant for the business. In 2011, a report was released by uSwitch detailing that we, in Britain, had the worst quality of life in Europe – so the effect this poor quality of life had on business was profound. Now, employers are investing more into health and wellbeing, which has seen the term evolve in an attempt to ensure our quality of life both in and outside of work has improved. Employers recognise that not only is this good practise, it helps bolster morale, engagement and productivity.
Whilst sickness can never be prevented in the office, it certainly has the ability to be reduced through employers investing in a variety of different benefits – that stretch from health insurance to discounted gym memberships. Ultimately, a healthier workforce works more efficiently and productively. In fact according to Aon’s recent survey, it’s clear that manifests itself in real-work environments, as 93% of employers in the EMEA market believe there’s a correlation between health and employee performance. So, whilst there’s no denying that a healthier workforce works more productively, employers can and should use their benefit programmes in a more effective way to ensure employers are happy and healthy – improving engagement, performance and allowing employees to work smarter.
We’re seeing more innovative techniques be introduced to policies, such as Cycle-to-Work schemes that encourage staff to not only prevent sickness, but to improve their general levels of health. Technology is also playing a huge part – whether that’s incorporating smart technology (such as fitness applications) into benefit programmes or simply offering benefits through apps like Hapi so that employees are inspired to actually use their Health and Wellbeing benefits.
Often, businesses spend resource and time investing in their benefits programmes- of which Health and Wellbeing is integral- but if innovative communication methods aren’t used to communicate exactly what is on offer, they run the risk that programmes aren’t utilised efficiently. Health and wellbeing is arguably the sector most affected by lack of engagement with policies – mainly because it can make a difference on many levels in the workplace, preventing illness, improving health (both mental and physical) and ensuring that the relationship between employer and employee is maintained. Benefit providers and HR teams must therefore make sure health and wellbeing sits at the heart of packages offered, and more importantly, are tailored to each individual in the workplace.
David Walker is Chief Commercial Officer at www.personalgroup.com