Health related loss in productivity costs the UK economy an estimated £91 billion every year. Clearly, anything employers can do to address this through workplace health and employee well–being initiatives can make a big difference. Yet, while corporate wellness has become the norm for US businesses with 80% of businesses with over 50 employees offering some sort of initiative, in the UK, the rate is just 45%. Here, there is a perception that such schemes are too expensive, or simply not effective – despite a recent German report showing that employee well-being programmes boost productivity, reduce stress and increase employee engagement. The message is, when it comes to workplace investment schemes, start with your staff.
A corporate wellness plan for employee well-being and organisational success
Under employment law, employers must provide a safe and healthy workplace and more are realising that it’s in their interests to protect the physical, emotional and mental wellness of their workers too. But getting the most from any corporate wellness programme means planning it properly.
Engage your workforce – For any initiative to work you need full buy-in from senior management before engaging your employees. Examine potential barriers and how you can tackle them, then put together a dedicated team to push the employee well-being scheme.
Get feedback – Ask your employees what they need. This is a sure-fire way of securing buy-in. Every worker will have unique needs, so a one size fits all approach probably isn’t the best solution. However, this will depend on the size of your workforce and your business model. A good example of this is Wellbeing First – a course specifically designed to address the well-being of teachers.
Plan ahead – Once you have that information, you can create a road map of actions. Do what you can to link your plan to existing company programmes and, where possible, demonstrate the benefits – for management and workers. A good way to do this is to create a budget that shows the damaging effect of not pursuing the programme.
Implementation – Make sure all the details of the scheme are communicated to staff and follow up to make sure the programme rolls out effectively. Measure the impact in terms of participation, budget, behavioural changes, and, of course, benefits in terms of productivity and other metrics.
Small changes, big effects
It’s worth investigating any sources of funding or support available from government bodies, but even if yours is a small business, you don’t have to spend a lot to make a difference. Here are some small, simple actions that can deliver real benefits:
- Encourage staff to take a walk at lunchtime instead of spending it at their desk
- Provide training on wellness issues such mindfulness
- Offer remote home working / flexi-time to improve work-life balance
- Offer free fruit or access to healthy food options
- Secure a membership discount at a local gym
- Encourage a cycle to work scheme
A healthy body and mind leads to us becoming happier, more centred people, and this can benefit every aspect of our lives – from family relationships to business and workplace interactions. Anything an organisation can do to improve the wellness of its workers will be reflected in the overall well-being of the company itself.
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