There are clear business benefits for organisations that support staff health and wellbeing, including lower absence rates, higher productivity and better employee engagement, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in a report published in May.

Delegates at the Employee Benefits Summit, held on 14 and 15 May in Alicante, Spain, agreed that staff health and wellbeing is rising on the corporate agenda, with 26% of poll respondents citing a noticeable difference in senior management’s attitude towards employee wellbeing compared with five years ago.

Neil Carberry, director of employment and skills at the CBI, said in the report: ‘Having healthy staff is an essential part of running a healthy business.’

‘Many employers are introducing innovative initiatives that focus as much on health management and building employee resilience, as they already do on absence or safety management.’

‘Not only is this simply the right thing to do, but a healthy, happy workforce will also be an engaged and high-performing one, having an impact on bottom-line productivity and quality of product.’

Many UK employers already provide workplace wellbeing initiatives that are considered more than just a ‘nice to have’.

Tui UK and Ireland launched a walking challenge to promote fitness and wellbeing among its staff, coinciding with Walk to Work Week from 12 to 16 May.

But it was more than a fun challenge, says Carolyn Parker, HR business partner at the travel organisation. ‘It’s important that we can demonstrate a return on investment and really sell the benefit, so maybe next time around we can get more people taking part and get a bit more funding from the business,’ she says.

Other employers that focused on the wellbeing of their workers in May included Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which concluded a weight management programme; Wates Group, which is currently rolling out on-site wellbeing kiosks; and the Miller Group, which enhanced a number of its health and wellbeing initiatives.

Meanwhile, Business in the Community (BITC) published its second annual Workwell FTSE 100 benchmark in May, which aims to help employers create healthy and engaged workforces.

BITC identified Barclays, British Land Company, BT, GlaxoSmithKline and the Royal Bank of Scotland Group as the leading FTSE 100 organisations that publicly report on employee wellbeing and engagement.

Louise Aston, director of Workwell at BITC, said: “When we started the Workwell campaign, employee engagement and wellbeing was a bit of a ‘nice to have’.

‘The organisations that are doing this well are positioning employee engagement and wellbeing as a strategic boardroom issue linked to securing business objectives.’

‘The evidence to support the view that wellbeing and engagement are inextricably linked in terms of the virtuous circle of driving each other and more sustainable performance and better performance, is overwhelming.’

By Jennifer Patterson, as published in Employee Benefits on 2nd June 2014

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