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Health matters on the business agenda.

The health of Britain’s workforce is increasingly in the spotlight, thanks to an ageing population, a higher retirement age, and increasing levels of chronic illness. Westfield Health’s Head of HR Development and Strategy Fiona Lowe discusses the issue of employee health in detail.

Health and wellbeing in the workplace has changed significantly over recent years. As the pace and nature of work has evolved, through technological advances and the blurring of ‘work’ and ‘home’ life, so has our understanding of the impact on our health and wellbeing. New research regularly reveals the changing state of employee health and wellbeing in the UK. Recent studies undertaken by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found two fifths of employees are reporting mental health issues, while the links between sedentary jobs and the increased risks of heart disease, diabetes and cancer have been widely reported.

Furthermore, the impact of employee health and wellbeing on a business’s bottom line is a growing concern. Employers face a yearly bill of around £9billion for sick pay and associated costs (Office for National Statistics, 2014), while a staggering 131million days were lost due to sickness absence in 2013, costing the UK economy £100billion. So how can you ensure staff health and wellbeing is put firmly on your business agenda? Our own research, The Employer View (2015), revealed that 80% of UK employers strongly believe that investing in employee health and wellbeing is good for business. We also identified that the key challenges facing employers are back pain and musculoskeletal disorders (37%), and stress and mental ill health (30%).

But the majority of employers (76%) don’t actually measure return on investment when it comes to health and wellbeing initiatives, which suggests a clear strategy is lacking. Supporting the physical and mental health of employees should be a priority for every company, but developing the most effective health and wellbeing strategy for your workforce and convincing your stakeholders that it’s a worthwhile investment can be a daunting prospect. And when you’ve succeeded in doing that, it can be challenging to implement and evaluate your chosen strategy effectively.

So if HR managers were to have access to a support system to help them choose, implement and evaluate a health and wellbeing strategy, it could make a real difference. That’s why we’ve launched a new health and wellbeing toolkit to guide and support them through every important step in the process. These resources have been developed in conjunction with [email protected], a leading authority within The Workplace Wellbeing Charter, and provide comprehensive guidance for HR professionals.

Step one – formulating your health and wellbeing strategy: Consider your corporate goals, your current health and wellbeing issues and objectives, and your statutory obligations. Our planner then offers a number of possible solutions for your workforce that will help you develop your plan.

Step two – winning the business case: It’s crucial to develop a business case that outlines the purpose of your health and wellbeing strategy, the resources required to deliver your plan and the results you hope to achieve. Our guide gives you pointers to help you secure financial backing.

Step three – choosing your supplier(s): With so many different suppliers on the market there’s a lot to consider when choosing who to work with. Our toolkit includes a checklist of points to consider when searching for your preferred health and wellbeing partner.

Step four – staff engagement: A great employee wellbeing strategy needs to be effectively communicated if it’s to succeed. Our guide explains how employee engagement will ultimately help you to achieve your health and wellbeing objectives, and provides effective communication tips.

Step five – measuring performance: You need to be able to evaluate ROI in order to assess the impact of your strategy. Whether your measurement of success relates to financial impact or the overall wellbeing of your employees, we’ve developed a tool to help you identify the right metrics and present them professionally to decision makers.Our ultimate aim was to provide HR managers with as much guidance and support as possible to help them through the planning process. We’d love to hear your feedback, including any tips we can incorporate into future editions of the guides.

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