Event In Review: Is Your Workforce Fit For Purpose

We started the morning with an introduction from our Director, Kevin O’Brien. Kevin ran through the agenda for the day and gave a brief summary of the state of workplace physical wellbeing in the UK.

As I’m sure you’re aware, wellbeing has increasingly become a focus for organisations over the last decade or so, with mental health and physical wellbeing at the forefront of that focus. Organisations are starting to recognise that in order to succeed as a business, they need to help their employees strive to be the best possible versions of themselves, which involves nurturing their wellbeing. Therefore, businesses have begun implementing wellbeing initiatives in order to assist their employees. Albeit, organisations are recognising the need to change, overall, we’re not doing enough.

The majority of employees in the UK work some variation of 9-5 in an office, sitting at a desk, 5 days a week. Which isn’t doing our physical wellbeing any favours, and as a society, we don’t seem to be making strides in improving our prognosis. We can’t even begin to imagine the negative impact this is having on our bodies. Or maybe we can….

I don’t know if you’ve been introduced to Emma, but she is a model of a ‘colleague of the future’. She’s a life-sized prediction of what office workers’ bodies will look like in 20 years. Thanks to the long-term negative physical and mental impact of increased screen time, long hours and too much sitting.

That image alone tells you that organisations, as well as individuals, need to be working together to find a long-term solution to improving employee physical wellbeing – before it’s too late.

Our first presentation of the day was from our expert guest speaker, Jane Arlow, the Group Reward Director at Nomad Foods. Jane gave a thorough explanation of why physical wellbeing is important and the strategies businesses can implement, in order to improve wellbeing. Jane then discussed what she is doing at Nomad Foods to improve wellbeing and their three-year plan.

She then outlined a few cost-effective strategies businesses can implement, such as walking meetings, cycle to work schemes, wellness sessions and nutrition workshops.

Matthew Clement from Project MVP then discussed how their services assist organisations in improving employee physical wellbeing, through their Measure, Validate and Perform technique.

Project MVP work with organisations to develop a bespoke service tailored to the needs of their individual workforce. They assess employee fitness and physical health through various testing methods, work with them to support employees in reaching their goals and meeting their fitness targets, then reassess their progress after a period of time, and ultimately report on their overall improvement.

Our fantastic panelists were then tasked with exploring how companies can improve wellbeing, and explaining how their organisations are trying to implement wellbeing strategies and the challenges they’ve faced throughout the process.

Some of the topics that Kate Godfree from Affinity Health at Work, Rachel Berns from Health and Reward Ltd, Cecilia Shandeva from Yugen Connections, Michael Urquhart from Project MVP, Michelle Ord and James Rule from The London Stock Exchange, covered were:

  • How much do you believe organisations are responsible for helping employees improve their physical wellbeing?
  • What successful physical wellbeing strategies have you either seen implemented, or implemented yourself?
  • What are the key components of a wellbeing strategy?
  • How do global employers with centralised HR/Benefits functions deliver consistent, meaningful wellbeing activities to employees in all locations on a restricted budget?
  • What are the key measures that should be put in place in order to ascertain the success of a wellbeing initiative?

Key Takeaways:

If there was one major take away from the day, it would be just how complex the task of improving physical wellbeing is. Different organisations have varying challenges in terms of budget, buy-in, and uptake – and at the end of the day, no one solution or initiative is going to work for every single employee and encourage them to change their behaviour.

A key idea that nearly all of the panelists touched on, was that it’s important for businesses to get input from their employees when designing a wellbeing strategy. In order to implement the right initiative that will actually motivate people, and help them improve their wellbeing. Competitions may work for more competitive, driven environments – whereas walking meetings, nutrition workshops, and step challenges, may be more successful in other organisations. It’s all about having an open conversation with employees and asking what will work for them.

A few other interesting ideas that were brought up were:

  • Implementing nudges – one company had stickers printed that said ‘take the stairs’ and put them at the foot of their elevators. This resulted in more people taking the stairs when they had to wait for the elevator, as this small reminder prompted them to make a healthier decision. They also had signs on their cigarette bins that said ‘should I smoke less’, one side said yes, one said no. Almost every day the ‘yes’ bin was fuller than the ‘no’ bin. Even though it may not have caused people to stop smoking, it did prompt them to think about how many cigarettes they’ve had that day and consider skipping the next.
  • Utilising health and wellbeing champions – another organisation shared that even though they had a small budget, they asked people who were healthy and exercised regularly, to assist them in improving employee wellbeing. They worked together to come up with cost-effective solutions to help motivate employees to make healthy choices.
  • Making progress tangible – this involved creating posters and putting them around the office. They outlined the benefits of various forms of exercise, for example, ’15 minutes of exercise a day can boost life expectancy by three years and cut death risk by 14%.’ By outlining the tangible benefits of exercise, it causes people to think twice about incorporating more exercise into their daily routines.

Ultimately, organisations face different challenges when trying to improve their employee’s physical and general wellbeing, and it’s definitely not a quick fix. It will take years to see a dramatic change however it’s important that businesses are beginning now.

If you’d like to attend our next event, be sure to get in touch: contact@williams-kent.com.


Tags: , , Categories: HR, Reward

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