Guest blog by Bruce Jenner, Loch Health
The Employee Wellness Survey 2016, published by the Reward and Employee Benefits Association (Reba) and Punter Southall Health and Protection in March 2016, revealed that growing numbers of employers are now putting employee wellness firmly on their corporate agenda: 31% planned to implement their own wellness strategy in 2016 and 35% are planning to do so in the next three years.
Developing a wellness programme for staff does not have to be complicated. A good place to start is for employers to review their absence data and the demographics of their workforce.
In most instances, the programme needs to tackle absenteeism from both mental and physical health issues. Proving a programmes ROI (return on investment) can be directly measured by the absenteeism costs that it can prevent.
Employers who offer wellness initiatives aim to increase employee engagement (39%), improve their organisational culture (23%) and retain talented staff (13%). The median annual spend of employers with a wellness strategy in place is between £26 and £50 per employee.
Larger employers start off their wellness initiative by utilising wellness screening kiosks, the quickest and most cost-effective way of screening large groups. Loch Health, in collaboration with Wellpoint, the UK’s largest kiosk provider, delivers a two-pronged approach for large employers.
Stage one is an all-employee provision, renting the kiosk in the workplace over a specific time period. The kiosk provides a confidential report to each individual in five minutes. An anonymised summary report is provided to the employer for them to get a snap shot of the health of their employees. Feedback from employers states that one of its key advantages is that the kiosk captures employees who never or rarely see a health professional.
Stage two is for dedicated medical specialists to follow up with employees in a confidential 1:1 session in the work place, this could be elective for certain individuals or compulsory for all employees.
Many small and medium employers choose to solely provide a bespoke medical specialist service as it is a targeted and highly effective investment in their employees Wellness.
A recent Wellness programme Loch Health delivered for a large Police Force highlights the ROI, in just one case. A 36-year old Police Officer visited the WellPoint Kiosk which identified that he had high blood pressure, an unexpected result as the individual was young, extremely fit and healthy. When the Medical Specialist was on-site, the individual requested a complete review. A manual B/P was conducted (240/160 which was repeated twice during the consultation) in addition to a cholesterol profile which put him in the Red category on the QRisk2 assessment tool. The Medical Specialist wrote a referral letter to his GP alongside his results.
This seemingly healthy 36 year old officer was identified as being severely at risk of a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke unless preventative measures were put in place immediately. The employee is now receiving medication after consulting with his GP.According to the British Heart Foundation, the average recovery time from a heart attack is three months, with another three months to get back to working full time. The salary of a police officer with five years’ experience is £30,950 so this could have cost the Police Force around £15,475.
However, more importantly, the officer’s life has been potentially saved, and this is priceless.
Other actions for consideration within a wellness programme could include:
- Introduction of more healthy eating options such as fresh fruit supplies, low fat snack products such as nuts, cereal bars and low-sugar drinks – this is particularly effective in sectors with shift work and reliance on vending machines
- Corporate gym memberships as physical exercise is not only essential for physical wellbeing but also positive mental health
- Instigating a ‘No Eating at Your Desk’ policy to encourage office staff to move away from their desks during the day and ensure they take their entitled lunch break
- Simple reward systems which can really boost morale and alleviate stress by fostering a positive work environment such as an Employee of the Month award or allowing flexible working when requested if appropriate
- Introduction of walking meetings so employees are not sedentary for the whole working day
- Purchase of activity trackers/apps for staff to encourage adoption of a healthy lifestyle
- Classes in the workplace around mindfulness and relaxation
Wellness checks are an integral part of helping employers to manage absenteeism as well as demonstrating they want to look after their staff. It is a win-win situation for all with staff retention improved and absence levels reduced, tackling mental and physical health absenteeism.
Bruce Jenner – Director, Loch Health
Bruce has over 30 years’ wellness experience as a nurse managing NHS A&E departments and trauma centres. He was also a member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces as a Commissioned Officer and has been deployed operationally to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a highly qualified and experienced HR Medical Specialist, trainer and assessor.
T: 01892 578211