Workplace health benefits should include support for nutrition, fitness and lifestyle to encourage greater engagement and utilisation, according to digital health app, Peppy.
According to new research from Peppy, just over a third (37%) of employers recognise that it is ‘very important’ that employee benefits for both men’s and women’s health are backed up with support on wider health matters such as physical activity and nutrition.
A further 48 percent thought it was ‘somewhat important’ and 14 percent thought ‘not important’.
Support for more general health matters such as diet and exercise can be beneficial to those employees who have underlying conditions. It can also provide a route to harder-to-engage demographics, who don’t see themselves as the target audience for health benefits. For example, men who often interact less with traditional health benefits, or younger employees who feel such benefits might not be relevant.
What is lifestyle support?
Peppy explains that employers can promote lifestyle support by specifically targeting areas such as more effective ways to exercise or train, the benefits of good nutrition and improving sleep. In these cases, employees can be reluctant to approach their GP as they are not considered ‘ill’, but they can certainly benefit from support.
Dr Mridula Pore, CEO of Peppy said: “It’s positive to see employers acknowledging that lifestyle support is important in health benefits. However, communication around worst-case scenarios such as cancer or serious mental health issues may not trigger as many employees to engage. And if employees are at arm’s length from their health benefits, they will not truly appreciate or benefit from the depth and breadth of the support available.”
Benefits of lifestyle health support
While many employees may not have a diagnosed condition, the majority will benefit from personalised support on improving lifestyle and habits, such as fitness, better understanding of nutrition and encouraging mental resilience. Peppy believes that employees are more likely to engage when the area is relevant to them and if they have spoken to a real, human expert in that field, thus resulting in better health outcomes for the individual.
Once an employee is engaged with their health benefits, other concerns can be addressed which plays a crucial role in prevention and early intervention.
Engagement is key
Health benefits are provided first and foremost to support the employee but the benefits to the employer are also well documented in terms of productivity, recruitment, and retention. However, employees do not become more effective or more loyal by simply being offered these benefits – they must engage with them. So, it is crucially important that employers find a way to encourage all staff to utilise their health benefits to maximise the return on their investment.
Dr Mridula Pore, CEO of Peppy said: “Deploying lifestyle support is a great tactic to engage many more staff with health benefits in the longer term – we particularly see this with our male users. Offering this support also maximises the opportunity to improve staff health. This is true for all staff but particularly so for specific demographics, such as men, who are much more inclined to initially engage in areas that focus on lifestyle.
“For some employees this might mean supporting them in planning a training programme to meet their fitness goals, for others it will be understanding how they can improve their sleep.
“As well as the business advantages of having a workforce engaged with their health benefits, there is also a more intangible emotional value here that centres on whether staff feel cared for and whether they are living their best life. This is becoming increasingly important for employers to understand and action.”
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview. With a master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.