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How to design a corporate wellness program in the UK

From looking at various job advertisements in the UK, it’s clear that corporate wellness programs are all the rage. Words and phrases like “flexible working”, “free gym membership”, and “EAPs” are common benefits that companies provide to entice the best candidates. If you too are looking to jump on the corporate wellness program bandwagon, this Pacific Prime UK article will explain what these are, why they’re so important, and how to get started.

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Defining corporate wellness programs

Corporate wellness programs are designed to support and encourage a holistic approach to employee wellbeing – taking into account their physical, mental, and social health. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to these programs, as they are broad terms encompassing a wide range of initiatives. Some can be one-off events, while others are long term strategies. Based on your organisation’s goals, you can pick and choose from any of the following:

  • Free gym membership
  • Company sport outings
  • Healthy snacks/meals in the office
  • Mindfulness/meditation sessions during lunch break
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
  • Flexible working and annual leave policy
  • And a lot more!

How to engage your employees during the pandemic

With the COVID-19 pandemic placing a burden on the already strained NHS, it’s fair to assume that health-related benefits will be even more desirable. This not only includes group health insurance plans, but also preventative approaches like corporate wellness programs. What’s more, these programs will be increasingly appreciated as pandemic-related lockdowns cause employees a great deal of stress and anxiety.

The benefits of corporate wellness programs

Whether it’s encouraging a fit and active workforce, enhancing the mental health of employees, or ensuring that they feel appreciated, there are plenty of reasons for you to design and implement a corporate wellness program. Even though it may seem like only your staff benefits in the short term, your organisation also stands to gain in the long term from healthier and happier teams. The two main benefits are:

Lower absenteeism and presenteeism

According to Vitality’s data, British businesses lost an average of 38 working days per employee due to physical and mental health related absenteeism and presenteeism in 2019. This caused the UK economy to lose almost GBP £92 billion in 2019, which is over GBP £10 billion more than in 2018. As Vitality’s CEO Neville Koopowitz commented, the costs to businesses every year are “spiralling upwards”.

Solution: Corporate wellness programs can address factors like poor mental wellbeing and unhealthy lifestyle, thereby reducing absenteeism and presenteeism in the workplace. Overall, you’ll benefit from a productive and engaged workforce.

Recruit and retain the best talent

Did you know that nearly half (45%) of UK workers want to find a new job in 2019? This is based on research by Investors in People, discovering that employees change jobs because they want better pay, don’t feel valued, and face work stress. They also stay in jobs where there is a good work-life balance and positive team culture. What’s more, the pandemic is exacerbating the issue, as it’s increasing worries and caregiving duties, particularly for female employees.

Solution: If your organisation treats employees well through corporate wellness programs, you’ll be seen as the ‘employer of choice’, enabling you to recruit and retain the best talent, as well as stand out from the competition.

6 steps to design a corporate wellness program

Now that you’ve understood what a corporate wellness program is and why it’s so important for your organisation, you’re probably wondering exactly how to promote wellness in the workplace. After all, corporate wellness programs are so broad that there are a number of things you could do. Here, you’ll learn how to go about designing and implementing a corporate wellness program, complete with getting organisational buy-in from senior management.

Note: If you also want to offer group health insurance, you can check out our guide on structuring an employee benefits plan.

Step 1: Begin with the end goal – what do you want the corporate wellness program to achieve?

First things first, start with what you want your corporate wellness program to achieve and how you will go about measuring it. For instance, you may have noticed that a lot of your employees are taking sick leave or not feeling their best at work. In this case, you may want to reduce the absence rate and increase productivity. When it comes to measuring success, you could look at absence data or self-reported performances.

Step 2: Audit your current offerings and assess their effectiveness (skip this step if you don’t have any offerings)

Do you already have a corporate wellness program? If not, you can skip this step. But if you do, then it’s worth auditing your current offerings and assessing their effectiveness. You can do this by sending out surveys to employees for qualitative and quantitative data collection to see which areas need focus/improvement. You can also highlight areas that will have the greatest impact and add the highest value.

Step 3: Calculate a rough budget and get a buy-in from management

Next, calculate a rough budget and pitch your case to management. Research on the costs of various programs and how they will address your business needs. Furthermore, look at how to lower cost. Perhaps your employees don’t mind pitching in for certain initiatives? Or perhaps you can also consider free community initiatives. Remember to include in your budget the cost of designing and marketing the program, as well as incentivizing employees to participate.

Step 4: Browse your options and choose appropriate programs

Receiving the green light from management means you can realistically explore your options – both one-off sessions and regular sessions. Establish a wellness committee with cross-sectional representation from various teams, including HR, legal, communication, etc. They can give you a well-rounded perspective and help you choose programs. You should also look at third-party vendors that can offer the program and compare them to find the best-value option.

Step 5: Design, implement, and communicate the program

Once you’ve got all the details finalized, roll out the program at your organisation. Decide if you’ll start with a pilot program or go ahead with a full launch. Whatever you opt for, plan your communication strategies and incentivize employees to take part. Aim to create a buzz and make sure everyone understands the importance of wellness and how the programs will positively affect their lives.

Step 6: Measure the impact of the program and come up with a long-term wellbeing strategy

The final step involves measuring the impact of the program. Look at established metrics, such as participation rate, program competition rates, behavioural changes, etc. To supplement this, send out surveys to your employees to get feedback on the program. What’s more, you may want to measure return on investment (ROI) to see if the program is cost-effective or not. Based on your findings, you can generate a long-term wellbeing strategy.

Need help with designing corporate wellness programs? Look no further than Pacific Prime UK

If you’re looking to design corporate wellness programs, you may need the help of an employee benefits specialist like Pacific Prime UK. We have 20+ years of experience helping corporates navigate the health insurance and employee benefits landscape, most recently through our State of Health Insurance Report 2020 and Global Employee Benefits Trends Report 2020.

Whether it’s group health insurance plans or employee benefits solutions, such as corporate wellness programs, or more, we use our unique broker approach to offer you bespoke packages that meet your needs and budgets. For more information on what we can do for you, you can reach out to a member of our corporate team today!

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime UK
Suphanida aims to demystify the world of insurance by creating informative and engaging content. As a wordsmith, she spends the majority of her day writing and editing website content, blog posts, in-depth guides, and more.

Outside of work, Suphanida enjoys travelling to new places and immersing herself in different cultures.