As a trend, employee wellness seems to be increasingly emerging on the initiative of employers. We only have to start by looking at the example of Apple’s recently-opened, California-based campus, Apple Park, where 100,000 square feet are set aside for a $74 million fitness and wellness centre.
Similarly, Google’s under-construction London headquarters will see a swimming pool and rooftop running track included as part of a £1 billion project. However, such cases could somewhat distract from instances where employers are not sufficiently prioritising looking after their workers.
Does your company have a “defined wellbeing strategy”?
Statistics suggest that it likely does or intends to implement one this year. Indeed, data from the Rewards and Employee Benefits Association and cited by Men’s Health reveals that nearly half of UK companies currently have a “defined wellbeing strategy”; less than a third did just two years ago.
Of firms yet to introduce such a plan, half are set to change that within a year. Steven Ward, CEO of non-profit group UKActive, remarks: “More and more businesses are taking workplace wellness seriously.” The office health market has reached £33bn in value, says the Global Wellness Institute.
Is your firm’s wellness scheme simply papering over cracks?
Sadly, there is evidence that it could be, as workplace illness yearly costs the UK a mammoth £100 billion, according to a government paper. Roughly a fifth of working-age people have a mental health condition, while a third have a long-term health issue affecting their work.
The paper acknowledges that businesses are “rightly focused on growth, productivity and delivering a return on their investments,” but adds: “Investing in workplace inclusivity, health and wellbeing is critical to these goals.” How could your own employer act to help close the gap?
How fruit can bear fruit in the workplace
A little, it seems, can go a long way when it comes to employers augmenting their existing workplace wellness efforts. Matt Hancock, the UK Health Secretary, has advocated employers giving workers free fruit to help them stay healthy – one of numerous measures included in a Government initiative.
“Soldiers have an 85% return-to-work rate after a serious injury and they obviously have some very serious injuries,” inews.co.uk has quoted Hancock as saying. However, he noted: “The equivalent rate for civilians is only 35% and the lesson from that is employers need to be more engaged when people aren’t well, getting them back to work.”
One measure conducive to this would be “creating an environment where people feel able to take sick leave”, the BBC implies. After all, workplace illnesses can quickly spread. A study by the University of Pittsburgh in 2013 revealed that even just one day spent sick at the office could spur up to a 40% rise in workplace flu cases.
Employers could also consider updating their existing corporate wellness schemes. Traditionally, Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) are utilised by fewer than 5% of employees entitled to use them, but this figure could rise to 100% with comparatively proactive employee wellbeing solutions from LifeWorks.