How healthy is your business?

sick employee at workChronic diseases are on the rise, which means that sooner or later your business will be affected by underperforming employees who come to work when sick, or increasingly stressed employees trying to cover their absent colleagues’ roles.

It, therefore, shouldn’t be a surprise when I say that it’s in your interests to do all you can as an organisation to improve the health and wellbeing of your employees.

Thankfully many businesses now recognise that there is a link between healthy employees and a healthy bottom line, but more can be done. So where do you start?


Benchmark the current health of your workforce

You can’t manage something you don’t measure, so the first thing you need to do is benchmark the current health of your workforce.

This benchmarking exercise will help you understand the particular needs of your workforce. It will help you identify the current state of your employees’ health, the main health risks facing your employees’ and any additional health concerns they might have. Some employee health benchmarking tools also help you assess whether a person’s health risk age matches their actual age.

The data from the benchmarking will provide you with valuable data from which you can start to measure the impact of your wellbeing programme, and hopefully the improvement in your employees’ physical and mental health, and lifestyle.


Offer something for everyone

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to an employee wellbeing programme. However if you have benchmarked the current state of your employees’ health you will be able to understand the particular needs of your employee and create a programme that meets those needs.

Your programme should be an integrated, needs-driven, participative, and holistic approach to employee health and wellbeing. Therefore, it is important to offer something for employee regardless of their age or health concerns. You can do this by including elements of each of the five fundamental pillars of employee wellbeing, which are:

  1. Health screening
  2. Smoking
  3. Nutrition
  4. Fitness
  5. Mental wellbeing

It’s important to recognise that people won’t change their behaviour overnight so include education programmes within your overall strategy as well as physical activities.


Motivate your employees to take part

recognise health achievements and milestonesPerhaps the biggest challenge of any workplace health and wellbeing programme is to get the workforce to participate in the programme.

Most people are already aware of what they need to do to improve their health, they just lack the motivation to do something about it, which is why incorporating a reward, and recognition element into your programme can really boost the results.

There are numerous ways you can reward and recognise your employees’ achievements on the journey to a healthier lifestyle. You can run points-based competitions with rewards, such as vouchers, for those with the most points at the end of a set period. Team games can be particularly successful as the thought of ‘not letting the team down’ can be an especially powerful motivator. You may also wish to recognise people for achieving individual milestones, such as having stopped smoking for one month.

The key to adopting a healthier lifestyle is to make small changes and build upon it; therefore you should ensure the reward and recognition element reflects this by rewarding the small steps people make towards their goals. And remember, our health can be very personal, so it’s important to include a mix of both public and private recognition.


Lead by example

employee-healthHealth and wellbeing must start at the top if you are going to have a successful programme. This means that employees need to see that the CEO, MD and the senior leadership team are engaging and participating in the programme. For some of the senior leadership team this might mean undertaking to improve their health and wellbeing, while for others it might mean showing an interest in their employees’ progress.


By engaging all levels of the organisation in your employee health and wellbeing programme you’ll help ensure that the health of your employees and your business doesn’t flatline.


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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