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Unlocking business success by prioritising employee health

Unlocking business success by prioritising employee health

Luke Bullen Headshot Gympass 1 - Business ExpressBy Luke Bullen, Head of UK & Ireland at Gympass

Prioritising employee health has become non-negotiable. In a recent study, experts found that 875,000 workers in the UK had reported some level of work-related stress, depression, or anxiety in 2023 alone. This number is only expected to increase, and if businesses continue to overlook employee health we are walking into a crisis. Businesses that prioritse employee wellbeing can foster a happier and more productive workforce while also reducing absenteeism, enhancing employee engagement, and ultimately driving organisational success.

Driving business success through employee health & wellbeing

I’ll start by emphasising one indisputable point: Investing in employee wellbeing is investing in company performance. 86% of workers say they would consider leaving a company that does not focus on employee wellbeing. Individuals are prioritising their health and wellbeing now more than ever, and spending more time being active and looking after themselves.

The majority of employees say that improved emotional wellness (91%) and physical wellness (86%) boost their productivity and satisfaction at work. This underscores a pivotal truth: prioritising employee wellbeing isn’t just an ethical consideration; it’s a strategic imperative. There is a clear and direct correlation between employee wellness and productivity. Companies that implement personalised initiatives to help employees will see a boost in the happiness and output of their workforce, but also drive positive business outcomes. As companies strive to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace, those that prioritise employee health will ultimately attract top talent and see far less turnover, driving strong performance and ultimately cutting costs on talent acquisition. Businesses are left with no excuse to overlook their staff’s wellbeing.

Addressing common concerns and misconceptions

Leaders often believe investing in employee health programmes is costly and lacks ROI. However, a recent report by Gympass demonstrates the long-term benefits, including improved employee engagement, reduced absenteeism, and lower healthcare costs.

Another misconception is that implementing wellness programmes requires excessive time and resources. In reality, it’s about choosing the right resources for your company. Every employee’s needs are unique –  rather than implementing fragmented solutions, employers who invest in a holistic wellbeing programme will see stronger results with relatively little output.

Meeting the needs of a changing work environment

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In the past few years we have had somewhat of a workplace revolution – the way we engage with work has changed, most notably with the adoption of remote and hybrid working. Incorporating flexible working into our current environment is crucial to supporting a positive working environment.

Gympass’ State of Work-Life Wellness report found that “mismatched” employees – those who work remotely but prefer in-office, or work in-office but prefer remote – reported significant negative effects on their overall wellbeing, compared to “matched” employees. And when asked to rate their wellbeing, mismatched employees were twice as likely to report that they were “struggling” or “really struggling” compared to matched employees.

Flexibility and adaptability are crucial when responding to our changing employee needs. By regularly assessing the effectiveness of wellbeing initiatives and soliciting feedback from employees, we can ensure that these programs remain relevant to the wants and needs of staff. Ultimately, by embracing change and proactively addressing challenges, businesses can create a workplace culture that prioritises employee health and fosters resilience.

Cultivating a culture of employee wellbeing

When cultivating the right workplace culture, it is important that businesses don’t assume that this means offering gym memberships and healthy snacks. It means creating an environment where employees feel valued and crucially trusted. From my experience, developing team culture comes in stages.

  1. Demonstrating a genuine commitment to wellbeing: This starts with you: if you are not willing to make the time for doctors appointments, gym classes or even physiotherapy sessions, junior employees won’t feel comfortable enough to ask.
  2. Embedding this in your policy: It is one thing to encourage staff to prioritse their health, but it is another to incorporate it into employee policy. By having it as a standard, staff will be more willing to engage with their wellbeing and won’t feel ashamed to ask.
  3. Creating open dialogue: As previously stated, it is important to know if these wellbeing solutions are working – in creating an environment where you routinely solicit feedback and in turn provide it to staff, employees feel more comfortable in the knowledge that management is aware of any concerns.
  4. Continuous improvement: Finally, solutions aren’t a one-and-done process.  Business leaders need to be realistic and remember that there will always be ways to improve workplace culture.

Conclusion: embracing wellbeing for a healthier tomorrow

Prioritising employee health is essential for businesses if we want to avoid a workplace crisis. The one-size-fits-all rhetoric around health and wellbeing is outdated and ineffective in addressing the diverse needs of today’s workforce. I encourage businesses to embrace employee wellbeing and work with their staff to determine what is right for them. By prioritising employee health now, businesses not only cultivate a more resilient and competitive workforce but also pave the way for a healthier, more sustainable future.

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