We have access to more information on our health than ever before. The news agenda informs us daily on all manner of health issues; what we should and shouldn’t eat, how much exercise to take, the impact of stress, the cost to the NHS, the cost to the economy in sick days and lost productivity. New apps and wearable technology provide instant insight into our health, supermarket labelling on packaging influences our shopping habits, celebrity chefs and youtube vloggers offer advice on how to eat, sleep, drink, and exercise; it’s all very useful, if somewhat overwhelming at times.
It’s estimated that at any one time, one in four UK adults is experiencing a mental health problem~ and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported that between 1990 and 2013 the amount of people with depression and/or anxiety grew by almost half*. Better detection and treatment may account for the rise in part, but the impact of austerity, long working hours, debt, lower wages, and cost of living are just some of the impacts on our physical and mental health.
Health & wellbeing at work
It is no surprise that our health is increasingly on the radar in the workplace too. The Department of Health, Department for Work and Pensions and the Health & Safety Executive have introduced The Health, Work and Wellbeing (HWWB) strategy, which encourages good management of occupational health. The Health and Safety Executive also recommends that a board member in every organisation champions mental health and stress reducing initiatives. Most employers support initiatives like this and actively encourage health and wellbeing in the workplace, but the commercial benefits are clear if sometimes overlooked:
- Healthy employees take fewer sick days, and recover and return to work quicker.
- Sick pay and insurance bills are better managed and reduced.
- Healthy staff are happier in the workplace and more productive.
- Loyalty and engagement are increased as workers feel valued.
- There is less demand (and stress) on colleagues having to cover the work of absent staff.
- The financial value of some benefits (dental care for example) helps with retention when employees can factor it into their package.
- Offering a selection of health and wellbeing benefits addressing different life stages, goes a long way towards creating a positive, supportive culture.
- Health and wellbeing initiatives can reinforce your values and provide the competitive edge over your rivals in the war for talent.
Steps you can take today to boost health & wellbeing in your workplace
We’ve listed here some of the most popular health and wellbeing benefits that form part of the best employee benefits schemes in UK businesses today.
How you group and market health and wellbeing benefits can have a dramatic impact on the awareness and uptake of the benefits. Grouping similar benefits makes it easier to consume what’s available to staff, or targeting your communications based on behaviour and benefits uptake; if an employee has taken up a health and wellbeing benefit, you may choose to offer them another that compliments their first choice. For example, an individual that has selected to take out Private Medical Insurance, is likely to have an interest in a health screening.
Below are some of the most popular health & wellbeing benefits.
- Flexible working – encouraging a healthier work-life balance, this can include job shares and home working.
- Private Medical Insurance – more affordable than taking out a policy individually by taking advantage of corporate rates.
- Health screening – get a body MOT and spread the cost over a year.
- Critical Illness Cover – pays out a tax-free amount if the individual is diagnosed with certain illnesses or conditions.
- Dental Care – normally pays for check-ups and most work required.
- Health Cash Plans – a type of low cost insurance that can cover a variety of health expenses such as dental, eye tests and other medical fees.
- Gym memberships – usually works by offering reduced membership fees to a local gym using negotiated corporate rates.
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Sources: ~Mind, mental health facts and statistics, *WHO media centre, mental health