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Five ways any business can improve wellness

31 Jan 2018 By Dr Rodrigo Rodriguez-Fernandez

This year, corporate wellbeing has to be more than just a gimmick, says Dr Rodrigo Rodriguez-Fernandez

Most companies, if you ask, have a corporate wellness programme. With countless benefits such as improving staff productivity, employee morale and job satisfaction, no one can argue with the idea that employee wellbeing is a win-win for employers and their staff.

However, having audited dozens of corporate wellness programmes across the world, I’ve seen that, too often, wellness schemes simply consist of bowls of fruit and a visiting yoga instructor once a month. While these benefits are treasured by staff and do improve wellbeing (marginally), they simply do not go far enough. To stay current, attract the best talent and have a significant positive impact, corporate wellness should be treated as a business priority, reflected across a company’s policies and culture, rather than an add on. 

With this in mind, here are five things your business should be doing in 2018 to improve your wellness programme.

Look beyond the ROI

Don’t just focus on the savings – workplace wellness programmes are a benefit that pay for themselves, and the evidence is already there to prove it. A recent study looking at the ROI of such programmes found that 41 out of 47 saved more than the actual cost of the programme, with an average ROI of 3.74 for every dollar spent. Adopt a value on investment (VOI) approach by focusing on other less tangible benefits such as employee morale, employability and enhanced productivity to qualify your programme. 

Incorporate health metrics into reporting

Add employee health indicators to your existing social responsibility, sustainability and integrated reporting to truly integrate your wellness programme and create a culture of wellbeing. Employee health metrics are increasingly being used to measure a company’s performance within the wider corporate framework, and this will most likely become common practice within the next two years. 

Destigmatise mental health in the workplace

Mental ill-health affects around three out of every five employees.  Create a corporate environment that destigmatises mental health by recognising it as a serious medical condition like a heart defect or lung condition. Equip your managers to act as mental health champions – this is already, fortunately, becoming a fast-growing workplace trend.

Use science, smart incentives and experts

Mix fruit bowls and free yoga with programmes that are evidence-based and scientifically proven. Offering the occasional massage therapy will not deliver long-term effects; instead, create a workplace culture that embraces wellbeing and motivates staff to be healthy every day through smart incentives. For example, set up a ‘wellbeing fund’ that your employees can use on activities that keep them happy and healthy throughout the year. Partnering with health professionals can also help you mix in-house capabilities with skills that lie outside your company. 

Find out if your wellness programme is working

Keep monitoring your wellness programme to make sure it is effective and having the desired positive impact on your employees’ health. Don’t waste the time and money you’ve spent building and introducing a new programme by simply forgetting to monitor it once it has been announced. Consider creating a check-in service for employees to keep track of their progress and identify areas where the programme could be improved.   

Dr Rodriguez-Fernandez is the global medical director of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and workplace wellness for International SOS. He also serves as the executive director and founder of the NCD Asia Pacific Alliance

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