First-time login tip: If you're a REBA Member, you'll need to reset your password the first time you login.
12 Dec 2022
by Neville Koopowitz

Why employee wellbeing must be board-level priority

The relationship between employer and employee is at an inflection point, says Vitality chief executive Neville Koopowitz

Why employee wellbeing must be board-level priority.jpg 1


As a nation, we have never been more aware of the importance of taking steps to improve our health. Despite this, embedding healthy choices into our everyday lives is not easy. Even with the knowledge that a greater proportion of our lives is now spent in ill-health than 30 years ago.

The ‘unhealthiness’ of the UK population, and in turn our workforce, manifests itself in various ways, including how a business performs. Around 40% of UK productivity loss – equivalent to £39bn a year – is due to employees’ unhealthy lifestyle behaviours and poor mental wellbeing.

This knowledge, alongside findings from research with the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) last year, led us to call for health and wellbeing to be prioritised at board level.

Much in the same way that organisations plan for pandemics, climate change and market fluctuations, businesses must consider the health and wellbeing of their people as a key risk, given that they are the most vital asset to a business and its growth.

Reimagining work-life balance

Much has changed over the last 12 months, including the way we work. Employers and employees alike have borne witness to the biggest reimagining of work-life behaviours in a generation, with hybrid working becoming the norm for most corporate businesses.

While cited by some as the holy grail of flexibility and the sure route to achieving a better work-life balance, our experiences internally, as well as those of our corporate clients, find that hybrid working – while positive in many ways – has not automatically solved the health and wellbeing problem. Employees continue to have diverse health needs however and wherever they work.

It is for this reason that Vitality partnered with CBI Economics this year. We wanted to understand not only how best to support health and wellbeing in a hybrid working world, but how to help employers put in place effective strategies to create healthier, more productive workforces.

We then combined this with research conducted among thousands of UK office workers to get a clear view of the impact hybrid working is having on employee health, as well as what is working for business and their staff – and what is not. We also took the opportunity to explore what more businesses can – or should – be doing, how to get started and the business case for doing so.

Inflection point

The results, set out in the report, show that an inflection point has been reached in the relationship between employee and employer. Individuals are expecting more than ever from their organisations regarding their health and wellbeing.

More employers are facing up to this challenge, investing in workplace health and wellbeing as they recognise the strong links between good health, flexible working and improved productivity. The benefits to recruitment and retention in the current climate are clear. So is the business case, with one quarter of all business leaders listing poor mental health and wellbeing as an issue causing disruption to businesses currently.

Data-driven insights

But there is no silver bullet – a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach won’t make the significant impact that businesses are hoping for, or one that will move business metrics. The solution lies in better insight to understand an organisation’s unique employee base better through data and responding appropriately.

One in four businesses admit they do not measure employee health and wellbeing, which is a missed opportunity. Businesses must move from policies that tick boxes to data-driven health and wellbeing programmes that work for all.

Shared value exists in getting hybrid working right. Employers benefit from a more engaged and productive workforce that leads to better business performance. In turn, employees are physically and mentally healthier as a result.

Only by understanding and personalising health and wellbeing support can we deliver meaningful change and build a healthier workforce in the UK. As we approach the winter, support for staff wellbeing is only going to become more needed. It must therefore be prioritised at board level and remain high on the business agenda.

Vitality recently teamed up with CBI Economics to survey C-suite execs on their experiences of hybrid working and combined their answers with insights from office workers. Read more about the findings here.

Related topics

In partnership with Vitality

At Vitality, we take a unique approach to insurance. As well as providing high-quality comprehensive cover, we provide a complete wellness package that can help boost employee engagement and productivity.

Contact us today


Webinar: Delivering great benefits design: from strategy to tactics

Why the little things may deliver more value than wholesale change
Wednesday | 19 April 2023 | 10:00 – 11:00 (BST)

Sign up today


Did you know that REBA now offers a discreet executive search and selection service?

Current live roles:
📌 Total Rewards Manager EMEA and APAC
Perm Salary - £80k to £90k + Benefits
📌 Total Rewards Manager EMEA and APAC
FTC salary (pro rata’d) - £50k to 70k depending on experience
Both are fully remote working

See current vacancies