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The physical attraction of workplace wellbeing

Posted by Amy Povey, Group Protection Propositions Product Manager at Aviva.

The physical attraction of workplace wellbeing

Workplace wellbeing programmes have come a long way in a relatively short time. Although they are normally associated with large organisations, there are many reasons why small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) can also benefit. And the best place to start is by getting the basic physical aspects of wellbeing right.

1.3 million reasons to think about wellbeing

The aims of workplace wellbeing: boosting morale, reduced absenteeism and improvements in productivity are shared across all types of businesses, throughout the UK. However, wellbeing is still a relatively new concept for many SMEs and has yet to make a big impact on a sector representing 99.3% of the enterprises in every main UK industry, where 5.7 million businesses generate around a half (51%) of all private sector turnover (1).

Although most of these businesses are sole traders and non-employing companies, 24% of them – 1.3 million businesses – employ people who could potentially benefit from workplace wellbeing initiatives in some form or another. For SMEs, the bottom line is that wellbeing in the workplace can prevent physical and mental illness and increase employee productivity.

Workplace wellbeing in practice:getting physical

Physical wellbeing is often the best place to start. Huge changes aren’t necessarily required and – with energetic internal promotion – good outcomes can occur at relatively little cost.In today’s sedentary workplace environment, the basics should ideally begin with desktop assessments to ensure that employees are sitting correctly, rather than comfortably.

The next steps could be health risk assessment questionnaires, which can help pinpoint key issues, while the promotion of healthy eating in the workplace can also bring benefits. A good place to start is with the contents of the workplace vending machine. Then there are working practices to consider: does a ‘long working hours’ culture really deliver business benefits if it leads to long term sickness? Do employees have a healthy work/ home life balance? By deploying procedures which deliver the basics, the programme can be extended to cover external features, such as gym discounts. The overall aim is to boost engagement and productivity.

For SMEs with modest budgets, it might be easier to focus on tried and tested physical improvements, like making sure employees take regular breaks from their workstations.

Workplace wellbeing:there’s an app for that

It’s clear that not all SMEs have the financial muscle for a multimedia wellbeing campaign, but advances in digital media mean that they don’t necessarily require a Hollywood budget.Recent advances in digital technology have brought health and wellbeing apps to the workplace. These are provided by innovative group protection providers, health and wellbeing providers - or they can be sourced independently. Broadly, these apps fall into two categories: ‘digital wellbeing’ and ‘digital doctor’.

Digital wellbeing apps aim to track and improve an employee’s health by managing chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, and fitness priorities such as goal-setting for daily activity levels, calorie intake and more. They also allow employees access to free, personalised health information about health and wellbeing issues, such as healthy eating, losing weight, sleeping better, lowering stress levels, or simply being more active.

Workplace wellbeing: fast forward to the future

To sum up, corporate workplace wellbeing programmes are on the rise, and will inevitably spread to the SME sector, with digital applications leading the way. And a future with reduced absenteeism, productivity improvements and inclusive, caring workplaces could be closer than we imagine.


The author is Amy Povey, Group Protection Propositions Product Manager at Aviva.

This article was provided by Aviva. Aviva Health UK Limited. Registered in England Number 2464270. Registered Office 8 Surrey Street Norwich NR1 3NG. REG012

WC02631 01/2019

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