Guest blog: Why invest in a health and wellbeing strategy and how to get started

Helen Smith, Chief Commercial Officer at Benenden Health explores how to make a health and wellbeing strategy successful for your business

Helen Smith, Chief Commercial Officer at Benenden Health explores how to make a health and wellbeing strategy successful for your business

Looking after your employees’ health can benefit your business commercially, in a number of ways. A healthy workforce means:

  • Higher productivity
  • Lower sickness absence
  • Less time off for medical appointments
  • Higher staff retention and improved engagement

Plus, offering wellbeing benefits can help your company attract and retain top talent. In fact, two thirds of recruiters consider medical cover as the most important staff benefit to offer*.

But if you introduce initiatives on an ad-hoc basis, they’re less likely to be as commercially valuable  as a bespoke, cohesive strategy that’s aligned with your company’s objectives.

Here are some clear and simple steps to help you get started with planning and developing a bespoke health and wellbeing strategy:

  1. Understand where you’re at and what you want to achieve

List the initiatives you currently offer and identify any key gaps. Are you focusing heavily on employees’ mental health but not on physical health? Research competitors’ offerings to discover best practice.

What you want to achieve should align with your company’s values, so consider why your company is promoting employee wellbeing.

  1. Getting management buy-in

It’s crucial that senior management understand the value of the health and wellbeing strategy - to secure the required budget and ensure it would be truly embraced from the top-down.

Use available internal data to help build your business case. Sickness and absence records, exit interviews and workforce demographics can all help highlight any key problem areas and the need for the strategy.   

  1. Developing your strategy

The key areas you’ve highlighted should help shape your strategy’s overall vision and direction. The vision must align with your company’s values and priorities too. 

Think about focused objectives that will help you achieve the vision, and what key metrics you’d use to measure them. You might look at reducing the number of employee sick days, for example.

When you know what you’re trying to achieve, you’ll need to choose which wellbeing initiatives to introduce. Asking your employees to contribute ideas can make them feel involved and valued. Finally, short-list the relevant, realistic and appropriate initiatives that’ll help achieve your objectives.

  1. Launch the strategy  

When you implement the strategy, communication is key. After all, a health and wellbeing strategy will only be successful if the initiatives are accessible by your workforce.

There are lots of effective ways to engage your employees, but some ideas are launch events, workshops on specific initiatives, intranet posts and team meeting announcements. Aligning events with relevant National Awareness Days can encourage engagement too.

It’s important that your employees feel valued and empowered, rather than preached to.

  1. Review and refresh

Once the strategy has launched, hold regular meetings to continually review the key metrics and evaluate your strategy’s performance. If things aren’t working, find out why and look at what can be tweaked and improved.

For further detailed guidance on these five key stages, download Benenden Health's employer’s guide. It also includes a case study on how they adopted the framework at Benenden Health.