Five steps to developing your wellbeing strategy

Employee health and wellbeing is now firmly on the corporate agenda. A recent report from the Reward and Employee Benefits Association and Punter Southall Health & Protection, Employee Wellbeing Research 2017: The evolution of workplace wellbeing in the UK’ found that 45% of companies have a wellness strategy in place, with 26% having introduced one in the last three years.

five steps

The UK is experiencing a major demographic change and employers are waking up to the fact that wellbeing is good for staff and good for business. We have an ageing working population with the anticipations percentage of the total population over 60 is predicted to rise from 24.2% at present to over 29% in 2035.

Employees are also working longer due to the removal of retirement age and the financial restrictions on retiring at 65. As we age long-term medical conditions become more prevalent. The Work Foundation advise that 21% of employees in the age group 25-44 have a chronic medical condition, this doubles to 42% in the age group 45-64 and when you come to 65 to 74 then 57% will be working with a medical condition.

Get the board interested

This knowledge coupled with the increasing obesity rates and the fact that a third of employees have experienced a mental health condition whilst at work should be sufficient information to highlight the management team of the importance of establishing a wellbeing programme. If you want to put a business case to the board as to why wellbeing matters, then look at your absence data and claims data and cost and identify the main reason for absence. This will hopefully encourage the board to take an interest in wellbeing.

Yet in spite of the vast amount of information, apps and articles focusing on health and wellness, the general health of the population is in decline, with a steady increase in obesity rates and nearly half of us classed as obese. With employees spending so many hours at work, employers are in a unique position to provide relevant information and support to improve the health and well-being of their workforce.  

Research shows us that the key drivers behind most corporate wellness strategies are to improve employee engagement and enhance the organisational culture.

Employers have a great opportunity to improve engagement and productivity through health and wellbeing initiatives. Whilst, a few years back wellbeing strategies may not have been taken seriously, they are becoming a vital business tool to engage and nurture talent.

Here are some suggestions as to how you get started.

1)  Gather and analyse data

Look at the demographics of your company, the provision and utilisation of current employee benefits and identify whether your policies and procedures supports health and wellbeing.

Look at absence management data and the most common reasons for short and long-term absence. Check what wellbeing initiatives you already have and what the take up is. With this information, you can clearly see the state of the organisation, including the current workplace culture in relation to health and the areas you need to focus on.

Companies should also bear in mind that the culture at work matters: do your policies and procedures foster wellbeing? Are the line managers trained in managing people? Is there are clear understanding of the corporate values?

Does your physical environment support employee wellbeing? For example, do staff have access to shower facilities? Do you provide bike racks? Does the layout of your office promote your values and support your culture?

Use the data you have gathered to present to the board as to why they should invest in wellbeing.

2) Ask your employees

Involve your employees and ask them what types of wellbeing initiatives they would like most. You could do employee surveys or focus groups to canvas their views about the organisation, your current wellbeing initiatives and any improvements that could be made.

3) Design your strategy

When you know what you would like to achieve and you have identified your aim and objectives, you need to work out how you will achieve it and where you can get support.

Consider the logistics: how you will reach as many employees as possible? How will you ensure you achieve momentum and ongoing engagement and support for the programme?

Also make sure you use any additional services such as training, discounted gym memberships or access to health and Wellbeing portals available through your benefit providers.

4) Launch your programme

Plan how to launch the programme. This could include using bulletin boards, emails, podcasts, intranet or creating a wellbeing day. You could launch the programme on a National Health day or week for example Mental Health week, World Cancer Day or No Smoking Day.

5) Evaluate and refine your programme

It may not be a specific science, but consider how you will demonstrate the effectiveness of your programme to the board and to employees. As you will have reviewed where you were before launching the programme, you will have a baseline from which to show the results. Things to measure include participation rates (if it’s not working change it), the impact on employee engagement, and impact on claims and employee absence rates.

Follow these simple steps and you will be on the road to delivering a wellness strategy that best suits your business and improves the health and wellbeing of your employees.

Beate O’Neill is head of wellness consulting at Punter Southall Health & Protection.

This article was provided by Punter Southall Health & Protection.

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