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corporate wellness


FIT FOR WORK


Employee wellbeing programmes need to be inclusive, integrated and demonstrate a return on investment if they are to satisfy today’s corporate clients, as Neena Dhillon reports


employers can reap positive dividends from adopting a proactive approach to health promotion,” says Dr Jill Miller, research adviser for the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development). She continues: “Our absence management survey found organisations that had seen a decrease in their absence levels were more likely to have a wellbeing strategy in place. Guarding employees’ wellbeing is particularly important during these uncertain economic times, with positive effects on engagement, job satisfaction and hence organisational performance.” As fi gures emphasising the levels of ill health in the UK workplace have hit the headlines, there has been no better time to consider the subject of corporate wellbeing. According to a government-


“A


Reducing stress is now a key driver of corporate wellness worldwide


n employee wellbeing strategy is an integral part of effective absence management, and


instigated independent review, led by Dame Carole Black and David Frost in 2011, 140 million working days are lost annually to sickness absence, with employers paying £9bn in associated costs. The CBI estimates a higher annual number of lost working days – 190 million – with each employee averaging 6.5 days off sick, resulting in a yearly bill of £17bn to the UK economy. Meanwhile, the link between


employee wellbeing and productivity was made evident by a recent CIPD company study, which highlighted how the bottom 25 per cent of workers in terms of health are 18 per cent less productive than the top 25 per cent. The most common reasons for short- term absence, including minor illnesses and back pain, hold no surprises. Yet work-related stress and mental health problems are fi guring more prominently, as is ‘illegitimate’ absence (ie taking sick days to fulfi l responsibilities at home).


Employers are also alarmed by the health conditions increasingly being caused by obesity. The added issue of presenteeism – ‘being present at work while feeling ill or being unable to work at normal capacity’ – is also being drawn into the debate, with calls for comprehensive UK studies to assess its impact.


JUSTIFYING SPEND While the provision of corporate wellbeing is nothing new, more companies are looking at how they can enhance the quality of their programmes or justify meaningful spend in this area. The days of simply offering a discounted gym membership are numbered for those seeking to minimise the wide-ranging consequences of ill health. The motivations for making an


investment are varied. Dr Andrew Jones, MD of Nuffi eld Health Corporate Wellbeing, observes: “The obvious and common reasons are the management


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october 2012 © cybertrek 2012


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