Modern employers are increasingly being expected to offer health and wellbeing support to employees. Although it’s not a legal requirement, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) believes it should be a.
However, with many companies adopting a one-size-fits-all approach and failing to recognize the unique needs of their workforce, they’re failing to realize the full business benefits of investing in employee wellbeing. Marcus Herbert, Corporate Operations Specialist at Nuffield Health, explains how equipping your business and staff with the right information and services can maximize ROI.
Addressing the productivity crisis
Just because employees turn up to the office doesn’t mean they’re benefitting the business. In fact,found presenteeism – where employees show up when they’re not well enough to perform – costs UK employers up to £26 million annually.
For employers looking to tackle the workplace productivity problem, taking a reactive approach isn’t enough. Health and wellbeing should be ingrained in company culture, with employers identifying the risks and responding to the needs of their workforce before a problem has long-term implications.
Unlike common blanket initiatives like healthy food options or guest speakers, employee health assessments provide qualitative information on employee needs at an individual level, helping to shape an effective wellness programme which benefits the whole workforce.
SMEs may be concerned they won’t gather enough data to get a deep enough insight into their employee’s needs, but even a low number of participants can produce detailed feedback. With long-term absences impacting SMEs the greatest in terms of resources, identifying problems early and putting in place measures to prevent sickness can really pay off.
Employee health information should shape a preventative strategy. For example, a workforce suffering from a high number of musculoskeletal disorders can adapt their office to accommodate standing desks and on-site physiotherapy sessions.
Health assessments can be invaluable as an initiator of change for employees, as they highlight a person’s risks and predict future health challenges.
Focusing on lifestyle and medical factors, health assessments give employees information on facets like blood pressure, resilience to stress and risk of diseases. Armed with this knowledge, employees often feel empowered to make different choices and take control of their health.
However, one of the biggest hurdles in running an effective wellbeing programme is staff themselves. Employees working to tight deadlines or deliverables can find it difficult to justify taking time out to talk about their health.
Among Nuffield Health clients, workers from manual jobs have demonstrated lower engagement levels than those in office jobs. This is likely due to greater flexibility in an office environment to leave the workplace during the working day.
To increase employee uptake and maximize your investment, it's worth offering flexible options for employees to attend assessments. Staff may also be cautious of talking about their personal health issues in a workplace context too, so it’s important to make sure employees understand what they’re entitled to, how it could benefit them both professionally and personally and how their information will be used.
As discussed, a physically and mentally healthy workforce delivers tangible business benefits, including higher employee engagement, less absence and most notably reduced work-related ill-health costs like sick pay and insurance.
However, there’s more value to be gained. A strong employee wellness offering which caters to the individual could be the deciding factor for applicants. Modern workers are becoming, and demonstrating you care about the health and wellbeing of your staff can go a long way in attracting the best talent, which can be a challenge for SMEs.
The power of data
Even for small teams, health assessments are a cost-effective way of accumulating data on employee health risks. Where once employers would struggle to know where to begin with health and wellbeing support, data and predictive analysis are now offering invaluable insights. After all, without intelligent analysis data is essentially worthless.
Corporate health assessments are getting smarter too. For example. Nuffield Health recently launched(Personalized Assessment for Tailored Health), which leverages artificial intelligence to produce an incredibly accurate picture of what makes employees tick, what they should do more of and what they should stop.
The data remains anonymous, but the more data the better. As you gather more information from employees, the suggestions become more detailed and tailored to their needs. This not only provides an obvious benefit for employees - tackling their health needs head on – but also provides a stronger ROI for employers.
By targeting health needs highlighted by employees, you’re minimizingwhich aren’t right for your workforce and directly focusing on initiatives which will benefit your employees and business in the long-term.
About the Author
Marcus Herbert is a corporate operations specialist at Nuffield Health, the leading provider of corporate wellbeing services in the UK. Marcus works closely with the Professional Head of Physiology and Deputy Medical Director to shape the future of Nuffield Health's Health Assessment products and digital platforms.