It’s well known that prevention is better than cure. So, when it comes to how to enable employee physical, mental and financial wellbeing, we need to look at support that they can engage with long before the potential cracks start to appear.
In its paper* in 2018 the Government set out its vision for putting prevention at the heart of the nation’s health and stated that a healthy nation is vital for a strong economy – boosting employment and productivity. They stated that ill health amongst working-age people alone costs the economy around £100 billion a year. So, how much could it be costing your company if you don’t help employees help themselves?
Even as far back as 2008, the government put forward their five ways to mental wellbeing and the tenets are still very relevant today. They include:
- Be Active: find an activity you enjoy and make it part of your life;
- Keep Learning: new skills can give you a sense of achievement and new confidence;
- Connect: with the people around you including family, friends, colleagues and neighbours;
- Take Notice: Be more aware of the present moment including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you; and
- Give: Even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word.
Using the principles above as a base (you could create a version of them and build them into your own corporate values), combined with all of the tools at your disposal including online and offline education, benefits provision, physical access to activities, gamification and even rewards and recognition, you’ll create an environment where employees are supported in every way to look after their own wellbeing.
A one-size fits all approach will not necessarily work, as everyone is different and at varying stages in their life and thinking. However, a joined-up approach will have maximum impact as physical, mental and financial wellbeing are inextricably linked.
Create a culture of wellbeing
Lead from the front. In fact, The Health and Safety Executive recommends that a board member in every organisation champions mental health and stress reducing initiatives.
In your culture of wellbeing give employees flexible working opportunities to manage their time more effectively or handle family situations that might arise from time to time; discourage presenteeism, ie employees staying late because they feel they have to; if you have holiday trading, don’t allow them to trade too many days holiday for cash; and encourage employees to find ways to get together and support each other with their fitness, like a running club, either at lunchtime or at the end of the working day. Using a recognition platform allow employees to support each other with a public pat on the back and a thank you and reward employees for exhibiting behaviours that drive your wellbeing culture.
On screen advice can be incorporated into your employee benefits/wellbeing portal or intranet. Financial education can come in many forms including an integrated money advice service or links out to financial wellbeing hubs. Access to online ‘do at home’ fitness training programmes are very popular at the moment including resistance training, yoga and HIIT workouts and could be integrated into your platform. Online articles on nutrition, exercise and sleep can also be informative and educate employees on how getting these right can have a massive impact on their overall wellbeing. Consider your employees emotional wellness as well with access to an app that encourages them to carry out some form of meditation or mindfulness activity.
Provide your employees with workshops, hosted by experts, on how to manage their health and their money better. Workshops could include learning about budgeting, managing relationships with credit card companies or how to apply for mortgages successfully. Bring in practitioners in lifestyle medicine to host interactive seminars on important health topics such as gut health, which impacts physical and mental wellbeing. Did you know that 85 per cent of serotonin, your happy hormone, is made in the gut? Do you have space in your office to give over to a fitness instructor or yoga teacher to run a class in the morning before work gets underway? Can someone come in and provide your employees with mindfulness training or resilience training?
Provide a comprehensive range of wellbeing employee benefits either as a net pay deduction, or salary sacrifice where tax and NI savings can be made in some cases, helping employees pay go further. They can include:
- Health screening – help your employees get a body MOT so they can be prepared for, or address any health issues sooner rather than later.
- Private Medical Insurance – gives employees peace of mind that they can get medical treatment quicker if required
- Critical Illness Cover – pays out a tax-free amount if the individual is diagnosed with certain illnesses or conditions and therefore also supports financial wellbeing
- Dental Care – normally pays for check-ups, to help prevent disease and tooth decay, and most work required.
- Health Cash Plans – a type of low cost insurance that can cover a variety of health expenses such as dental, eye tests and other medical fees.
- Gym memberships – get reduced membership fees to a local gym using negotiated corporate rates.
- Workplace Loans – help employees who want to borrow money and consolidate existing debt at special rates.
- Workplace ISAs – help employees to get into a savings habit for the future.
- Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) – provide an early source of practical and emotional support for employees facing issues in their home or work life.
- Online GP – a convenient way for employees to get to see a doctor faster.
- Online emotional wellbeing – helping employees to take time out to relax, meditate or be more resilient.
- Cycle to Work – encourage employees to “get on their bike” – great for supporting physical and mental wellbeing.
- Fitness Allowance – Let employees choose what they spend it on, whether that’s Zumba classes, horseriding or crossfit. One of You atWork’s clients even allows slimming clubs as part of their allowance.
- Discounts – help employees with their everyday spending by offering a range of discounts such as cheaper car insurance, train tickets, utility bills, mobile phones and supermarket shopping.
Some employees will get more from a one on one consultation to help put their mind at rest regarding their own personal circumstances. Create opportunities for them to have that access. It could be with a visiting nutritionist for advice on improving individual eating habits, online access to a GP if they want to discuss a private medical situation, and get seen quicker than their usual GP, or it could be an in-house appointment with a financial adviser to discuss their personal financial position. One to one benefit presentations can also be helpful as some need more explanation and employees can then ask questions relating to their circumstances.
Make it fun
How about encouraging the use of fitness gadgets? They can help to motivate your employees to commit to their fitness goals. You could set team goals and company goals and reward employees for hitting them. Team up with an organisation that offers discounts on fitness apparel, activity trackers and even home gym equipment. Some private medical insurers also reward members with cheaper premiums and special discounts for recording activity related to their wellbeing.
By showing employees that it’s ok not to be ok, how to get advice and giving them the appropriate time and tools could help prevent them from suffering a mental, physical or financial setback and save you money in the long term from lost productivity.
* Prevention is better than cure: our vision to help you live well for longer, November 2018