Time for employers to get proactive on workplace wellbeing

Oliver Gray, 22 May 2012

Source: HRmagazine.co.uk


Employee wellbeing might be firmly on the agenda for some organizations but are employers any nearer to really reaping all of the benefits associated with it?


Too many organizations take a reactive approach to wellbeing which leaves them missing out.


Too often organizations take a reactive approach to employee well-being. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean employers have failed to think about well-being or aren’t putting solutions in place, because many are. In fact, many medium to large organizations invest thousands of pounds every month paying for private medical insurance and annual health checks. But this is all reactive.


Private medical insurance can add huge value to businesses and individuals in terms of speeding up rehabilitation and getting employees back to work quickly. But it does not really help employees who are not sick or injured. Successful organizations know that there are huge benefits to be had from combining reactive health interventions, like private medical insurance, with proactive sessions to help employees really understand what simple changes they need to make to improve their health.


The forward thinking companies know that by taking a more proactive approach, focusing on both physical and mental well-being, and promoting healthy ways of living they have a real opportunity to make a positive change to the health, energy and performance of their staff. It is this that will reduce the cost of reactive health interventions, increase positivity throughout the organization and have a positive impact on the financial health of the organization.

In order to deliver real change we need to move away from thinking about well-being as a standalone activity, it is something that needs to be threaded through all talent management activities and that really becomes part of the culture. It is not enough to simply hold one event or workshop just to tick a box – putting in place healthy habits take time and therefore well-being activities need to be delivered regularly.


Only by helping employees understand what simple changes they need to make to change their habits will organizations reap all of the benefits of healthy, energized, high performing staff. By organizing health and wellbeing sessions that are relevant, dynamic, engaging and informative employees will be motivated to take action and it is this that will enable them to perform at their best.


Take stress as an example. Rather than focusing on stress, which is a word that creates so much negativity, instead organizations need to invest time coaching staff so that they become more resilient and are able to handle pressure. By training employees to be more resilient, giving them the tools to manage pressure effectively, employees are more likely to be able to handle the challenges that come their way. This means they are less likely to go off sick due to stress and are able to get on with their day job.


Organizations that are taking a proactive approach and making employee well-being part of their culture with directors, managers and employees buying into the concept are reaping the benefits. They are not only seeing a reduction in sickness absence and staff turnover but also an increase in performance, higher staff engagement and reduced healthcare costs.



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