VitalityHealth’s longitudinal study of over 7,000 Britain’s Healthiest Workplace participants in at least two years of study has revealed that there is a pervasive productivity challenge in corporate Britain, which is affecting all industries and organisations of all sizes. This challenge is as a result of lifestyle choices, clinical risks and mental wellbeing. The figures below represent the modifiable drivers of work impairment, found from the 2017 Britain’s Healthiest Workplace Survey.
- 3.5 productive days a year are lost by employees with poor diets
- 6.4 productive days a year are lost to insufficient sleep
- 7.9 productive days are lost by those who have financial concerns
- 19.1 productive days a year are lost due to depression
An Employers Role
If you work 40 hours per week, 47 weeks a year, from the age of 20-65 you will spend around 84,600 hours in work in your lifetime. With such a large proportion of your employees’ time spent in work, you have a duty of care to ensure they are healthy – both physically and mentally. There are three key strategies we would recommend to an employer, to increase employee health and conquer the productivity challenge. In turn, this will create a high-performing workforce with enhanced efficiency, which will contribute to a well-functioning society with better economic performance.
1. Provide incentives and rewards for participation
Providing incentives and rewards for either participation in workplace health initiatives, or for healthy behaviour has been shown to have by far the greatest impact in employee engagement over time. Incentives should not just be monetary, but perhaps discounts to encourage physical activity such as discounted gym membership, or giving a complementary gift for healthy efforts. Further to this, employers need to create awareness of the interventions offered such as placing information on the company intranet, holding educational workshops and internal emails.
2. Create an authentic culture of health promotion
Some may believe that employers not only have the opportunity to influence the health of their workforce, but they hold substantial accountability for the promotion of wellbeing and creating a culture of change. The approach needs to be holistic as physical and mental health should not be viewed in isolation. As research from Britain’s Healthiest Workplace suggests that there is a positive correlation between BMI and depression – as an employee’s BMI increases, depression incidence will also rise, as will stress. We recommend that employers discuss employee health and wellbeing at board level, view employee health and wellbeing as a measure of organisational success and share feedback on health and wellbeing with employees, encouraging a two-way dialogue.
3. Normalise health promotion and remove barriers to participation
Key barriers to employee engagement in healthy behaviours is time scarcity and limited support networks and subsequently, employers should look at allowing participation during work hours and opening up health promotion to family members. In work, employers can consider offering fresh fruit to employees, healthy food alternatives in the canteen, onsite fitness facilities and shower facilities on site to encourage employers to exercise into work.
Start making a change to your employee’s wellbeing today, and contribute to solving the productivity challenge for corporate Britain!