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03 May 2022

Health is wealth: why it's time to plug the gap

Covid-19 has accelerated the trend for firms to find heathy ways of working in a hybrid world

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We’ve all heard the term ‘health is wealth’, but it’s taken a pandemic to finally hit this message home with the business community.

Employers had started to pay greater attention to health and wellbeing before the pandemic, but Covid-19 massively accelerated this trend, as firms look to find heathy ways of working in a hybrid world.

According to Vitality and the RSA’s May 2021 Healthy Hybrid Working report, a taste for homeworking has resulted in more than eight in 10 employees wanting to work at home at least part of the week and more than seven in 10 seeking work that allows a fit and healthier lifestyle.

Fresh horizons

The shattering of well-established norms has undoubtedly contributed. The idea that face-to-face contact is essential for all medical treatment has gone out of the window, with employees increasingly taking advantage of services offering access to facilities like virtual GPs, online mental health support and online screenings.               

Widespread news that obese people were more likely to die or become seriously ill from Covid-19 brought greater awareness that being overweight meant susceptibility to a whole range of illnesses.

Additionally, there has been an increased focus on conditions exacerbated by homeworking, such as musculoskeletal problems resulting from makeshift workspaces. Add to this mental health problems linked to employees feeling less connected to colleagues or finding it hard to switch off. A January 2021 Public Health England survey found 49% of people felt the pandemic had impacted negatively on their mental health and wellbeing.

Meanwhile access to healthcare is still limited, with the Health Secretary calling for reform as NHS waiting lists reach all-new highs.

Let’s get engaged

But, perhaps most critical of all, has been the potential for health-related benefits to act as a key retention tool in an era now known as the ‘Great Resignation’.

Research published by messaging app Slack this January reveal that 29% of people are considering moving to a new job this year, while data released by Grant Thornton this March shows that 63% of mid-sized businesses are experiencing unusually high attrition rates – with 64% reviewing their benefit packages.

Employers seeking to win the war for talent are having to massively up their game because employees today, quite rightly, want the best of both worlds: a job that gives them flexibility and supports them to stay healthy.

Staff today are demanding both a focus on preventative lifestyles, as well as access to healthcare via multiple routes. And this is exactly what we, at Vitality, have always sought to offer.

We have robust data to show that, across seven key lifestyle factors, members engaged with the Vitality Programme are at least 10% more likely to improve their health.

Furthermore, as the workplace has changed, so too have methods of engagement, and our Britain’s Healthiest Workplace research has consistently highlighted engagement to be a strong driver of productivity.

Then there’s the opportunity to genuinely initiate behaviour change at work and see tangible return on investment on the impact that different employee risk factors have on a business, which is a leap many businesses are taking.

The Aon UK Benefits & Trends 2021 Survey showed that, despite the fact that only 9% of employers were measuring the ROI from their health and wellbeing programmes, 59% were planning to do so in the next 12 to 18 months.

Filling that gap

However, many surveys provide snapshots that help us make up the overall jigsaw, what is needed more now than ever is an authoritative and broad study that provides solid data on which such calculations can confidently be made.

This is why we are so excited about the relaunch of our annual Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, the UK’s workplace wellbeing survey – last conducted in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Originally launched a decade ago to inform employers and help make better decisions about workplace wellbeing, it has never felt more relevant.

Any business with 20 or more employees can take part and stand a chance of being named the winner of one of three business categories this November. Find out how to take part.

In partnership with Vitality

Vitality Health is award-winning health insurance that helps your clients live a healthier lifestyle every day

Contact us today

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