So what to do if you either run a business or a department or work in a business where health and wellbeing isn’t currently high on the company’s agenda?
This is a question that i have been faced with over many years. Up until this point, my solution has been to focus on my own wellbeing and support only those people who ask, simple.
However, about 8 months ago, things started to change. My company is a progressive employer, and as such we talk a lot about ways of developing our people to help them be more skilled individuals who are better able to support the strategic goals of the company.
The strategy around wellbeing, though, has been more limited. So over the last few months, I have been working with my colleagues in Occupational Health to create a more comprehensive framework and toolkit to support the wellbeing of our 3k employees, some of who are very engaged, but many of whom aren’t.
From the company’s perspective, the business case stacks up: you can’t do much if your people are off sick, and if you can reduce the rate of absenteeism and help your staff become happier and healthier, all of that wasted energy can be poured into creating new products and servicing customers better.
And yet, many UK companies are not doing very much to support the wellbeing of their employees.
Indeed, flicking through a copy of HR Magazine in the UK last week, I came across some interesting research that indicated that only 17% of companies have a strategy for their employee’s wellbeing and also believe it links directly to their success of their business. A further 47% run some wellbeing initiatives, but don’t really have a strategy in place, and this is the group that my company is currently part of.
US companies are certainly ahead of their UK counterparts. One study showed that US employers are investing $521 per employee, double what they invested 4 years ago. And it’s paying off. Those companies who are proactively promoting wellbeing initiatives are reporting improved employee engagement; reduced absenteeism and, above all, improved productivity!
So what are the companies who are taking the wellbeing of their employees doing?
I was at the Health@Work Conference last week in London and was very impressed to hear their experience of British Gas who have created a leading-edge wellbeing programme to support their 28k staff, implementing initiatives including:
- Simple exercises staff can do at work to get them moving
- Healthy Eating Your Way – an online resource which uses the traffic light system to help staff make healthier food and drink choices
I also interviewed one of the directors from Google UK, Richard Robinson, who ran through what Google does to ‘make their employees, the happiest and healthiest people on the planet’. Initiatives that include:
- a comprehensive website to pull everything together;
- a state of the art gym;
- a canteen based on Borough market;
- the reduction of snacks in their micro kitchens to ‘avoid temptation’.
Not everyone can do what Google does, but we can certainly get inspired by their example.
But all of these things cost money, what about the results?