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Taking advice on health and wellbeing

1 August 2017

An increasing awareness amongst employers of the costs of having an unhealthy or unmotivated workforce has ensured that health and wellbeing have become major buzzwords in HR circles during recent years. 

According to the 2016 CIPD/ Simplyhealth Absence Management Survey, the average cost of absence per employee is £522 a year. Furthermore, most surveys suggest that presenteeism (which results from people coming to work when sick or unable to fully concentrate) tends to be even higher.

Many presenteeism problems result from employees not feeling sufficiently appreciated at work, but providing a health and wellbeing programme can go a long way towards showing the necessary appreciation. Additionally, healthy people not only take less time off work, they also tend to be happier – and therefore more productive.

A March 2017 survey of the 1,000 strong BMG Research Employee Panel found that employees who work for an organisation that has a wellbeing strategy are twice as likely to believe their employer genuinely cares about their wellbeing, and that levels of employee engagement amongst those who believe this increases by 31%.

But, whilst many employers have become conscious of such home truths, they often let themselves down when it comes to their understanding of what a health and wellbeing programme actually constitutes.  

I have come across HR departments who felt they were fulfilling the definition of such a programme simply by making bowls of fruit available in the office or by having an annual health day. But it is unlikely that such limited action actually delivered on their goals.

Even employers who look to benchmark what they are offering against competitors can be on dodgy ground because each workforce has its own unique requirements that need a bespoke solution.

So inviting an expert intermediary like Chase de Vere to perform a consultation exercise can represent the best way forward. This will involve considerably more than highlighting how relevant employee benefits like private medical insurance (PMI), income protection and employee assistance programmes (EAPs) can help.

We can consult with the HR director and help them structure a staff survey to help them understand exactly what they are trying to achieve. The primary aim could be anything from reducing absenteeism or slashing private medical insurance (PMI) claims costs to boosting morale and retention rates, and a different programme will need to be tailored to suit.

In addition to implementing our own solutions we can involve other expert third party organisations when we feel they are required.

As the interest in health and wellness has mushroomed, so have the solutions available. These can include everything from straightforward steps like offering free or subsidised gym membership or ensuring a decent standard of coffee in the office to providing employee health screenings or educational programmes to reduce financial stress – now the most common form of workplace stress.

The days when employers could be considered to be giving useful lifestyle advice simply by telling staff to have their five a day and to cut down on smoking and drinking have long gone. Guidance needs to be more detailed and to be delivered in a more engaging fashion.

For example, explaining that consuming the wrong types of carbohydrates like biscuits and sandwiches will lead to a sharp energy drop around an hour later can do much to boost post-lunch productivity, as can encouraging exercise outdoors.

The chance to participate in Cycle to Work schemes or outdoor workplace challenge activities can prove surprisingly popular, and competitions involving pedometers or step counting can be used to encourage employees to go for walks.

Improving sleep can also enhance energy and efficiency, and making employees aware of the importance of avoiding their iPhones and iPads last thing at night and first thing in the morning can go a long way towards helping in this respect. Being plugged into technology all day substantially drains energy and affects sleep by over-stimulating the nervous system – which in turn leads to less exercise and attention to diet.       

If you would like to find out more about how Chase de Vere can help you structure a suitable health and wellness programme then please do not hesitate to contact Chase de Vere on 0345 300 6256 or complete this simple form and we’ll call you.