Every successful business needs healthy and motivated employees, which is why companies choose to spend significant busget on various wellbeing initiatives.
But to get the most value from your efforts, these initiatives need to be part of a cohesive wellbeing strategy. To help employers, we partnered with wellbeing specialist Jane Abraham to create our guide to ‘Developing a health and wellbeing strategy’.
One of the most important stages in creating a health and wellbeing strategy is establishing a clear direction and purpose from the start – by choosing appropriate key objectives and a clear vision for the strategy. Measurable objectives will help you to assess the strategy’s performance over time, and give evidence to secure senior management buy-in for any improvements you need to make. They’ll also help you prioritise your time and budget on the most relevant initiatives for your workforce.
As this stage is so crucial, but not easy, we’ve come up with some advice to help you get started.
Understanding your employees' needs
Since every company is different, employers' guide suggests you do some research to understand the specific wellbeing issues in your workforce, and how they’re impacting your business’ overall objectives.
Here is some of the data you could use:
• Sickness records - sickness records from previous years can show you if absence records are increasing or decreasing, the main causes of absence, and whether long or short-term absence is affecting your company the most
• The demographics of your workforce - age, gender and other variables can influence employees’ wellbeing needs, so look into their circumstances, and how your workforce demographics might change – e.g. are you planning to hire more graduates?
• Review usage data – look at how your existing wellbeing initiatives and services are being used. Does your company offer an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) or counselling service? When we used this framework to develop our own strategy at Benenden Health, we’d seen an increase in employees accessing our EAP, which indicated that more employees were stressed or struggling with their mental health
• Exit interviews and employee surveys – data from recent interviews and surveys can help you identify any themes or trends relevant to wellbeing at your company. For example, ex-employees may have cited poor work-life balance as a key reason for leaving
• Health assessments for the workplace are readily available and can provide a rich source of information about your employees’ lifestyles, behaviours and what could be most effective in improving their health and wellbeing. Benenden Health offer convenient and affordable on-site Health Assessments for employees
Create your vision
The results will help you identify the key priorities you want to address with your strategy, so you can create an overall vision.
Ideally, your vision will be aligned with your company’s overall objectives, so make sure you know what these are. At Benenden Health, we chose three main areas of focus, which aligned with our brand values and business objectives:
· Promoting an active and healthy lifestyle (in both the workplace and home)
· Staying well (preventing avoidable illness and infection)
· Mental wellbeing (creating an open and supportive culture for our employees)
Choose your objectives
Your strategy's vision will help you come up with realistic and relevant objectives that will support you to achieve it. You might be keen to try and solve everything at once. But it's best to start small and focused, addressing the key needs of your business.
Separating them into short-term, medium-term and long-term objectives will ensure they’re easier to manage. Some interventions will take longer to implement and create results, so having a set timeframe will be important when you come to assess their performance.
And be realistic about them! Is the outcome more important than the behaviours and culture that you want to achieve? If they’re too unrealistic, the strategy runs the risk of creating undesirable behaviours that generate more of a problem. Consider mental health for example. If the goal is to reduce mental health absence, some managers may focus on the absence target rather than creating the right culture where people feel comfortable to talk about their mental health. Perhaps the target could be to ‘reduce the stigma about mental health and raise awareness’ in year one instead.
These tips will help you get started with your wellbeing strategy, but for full detail on all of the five stages of development, read our employer’s guide.
Our Benenden Health Case study shows how we adopted this framework to suit our company’s specific needs and saw positive business results.