How to Create a Healthy Workplace: Good Practice in Employee Wellbeing
Reed Business Information was the winner of the CIPD’s 2016 Best Health and Wellbeing Initiative award. Lawrence Mitchell looks at how a 30-day challenge helped build a global wellbeing team, encourage new behaviours and boost productivity.
When Sarah Allswood was persuaded to join the RBI 30-Day Living Well Challenge, which encouraged employees to move more, she reluctantly agreed. Not being a lover of exercise, Sarah didn’t want to let the team down, but hoped that everybody would lose interest after a few days.
Thirty days later, Sarah completed her first 5km run, and that wasn’t all – she became aware of how little she moved each day, and how much more she was capable of doing. Sarah also bonded better with her work colleagues, discussing her evenings and weekends in ways she hadn’t previously. She slept better and felt more energised and this had an effect on her productivity at work. It felt like the start of a new chapter in her life.
Why an employee health and wellbeing initiative makes good business sense
Faced with an ever-changing and pressurised work environment, many companies are embracing techniques to help employees like Sarah adopt healthy habits and practices to reduce risk, and increase energy and performance. Most people know that doing exercise and keeping fit is an important component of a healthy lifestyle, but the fact remains that many people don’t move as much as they should, and exercise gets deprioritised in favour of less healthy activities.
Businesses have a crucial role to play in encouraging and supporting their employees to incorporate healthy habits into their lives. While wellness programmes can easily seem like peripheral activities in comparison to more significant business capabilities, the cost of employees who are off with stress – one of the biggest drivers of absence in today’s workplace – is significant.
The RBI Living Well Fitness Challenge
In 2015, RBI tested a simple idea to encourage employees to try a new, healthy practice.
RBI is a large information company with 3,000 employees based in multiple offices around the world. The programme was designed to connect the employees as part of a global community, and followed some best practices, such as adopting a campaign mindset where the challenge had a clear beginning, middle and end.
The 50 Days of Wellbeing was launched on the back of RBI’s Living Well Fair and attracted 250 people to sign-up and pledge to do something healthy every day. By the end of the 50 days, there were some great lessons and insights gained, all of which fed into the planning for the 2016 Living Well challenge, which took place in June 2016.