Health and Wellbeing ‘Its none of your business’?

…in fact it should be every part of your business as I attempt to reveal hidden benefits beyond the traditional arguments of “Return on investment” stats” and “sickness figures”…


In today’s world, the online universe provides a plethora of information, facts, studies and statistics that have built a business case that is hard to ignore around investing in the health and wellbeing (H&W) of your employees.

Well that is how it looks from “us lot” in the Public Health community anyway. But to resonate with business leaders and in particular the boardroom there needs to be other drivers for investment in health and wellbeing strategies and programming that goes beyond the ethical argument.

The trouble is, although the evidence is compelling, it is often produced and researched by academics, public health professionals and approached with arguments we think are relevant to business, without actually knowing what really is relevant to business.


For example reducing absenteeism rates is a definite business tangible, a long term one, and the term presenteeism (at work but less productive as a result of a health issue- think stress/personal/MSK etc) also a valid argument. But in the short term how is it measurable, or better put how does H&W contribute across the business to other business tangibles?

Of course for some Organisations reducing absenteeism is enough of a catalyst to lever investment and, provide in response,  a suite of health and wellbeing initiatives, activities and resources to help combat some of the aforementioned workforce health issues of our time.

For others, excuse the phrase, it is like ‘a stab in the dark’ – feeling compelled to do something but not sure exactly what to do, or where it fits in the bigger picture. It is an increasingly more complex area of business. Furthermore how does health and wellbeing fit with the wider Business strategy and how can it transcend every business function?

As I am lucky enough to occupy a position purely managing a health and wellbeing strategy and programme in business and working with multiple businesses across the Sheffield City Region I have a unique insight into how a Health and Wellbeing Programme sells at board level and experience of a range of evidence based health initiatives eg inactivity in workforces.

I also come with over 15 years of public health experience for the NHS, VCS Sector and Housing Sector which enables me to pool the knowledge and expertise I have gained across Sectors. Often sectors that don’t deal with each other in day to day operations – which brings business benefits you may not think about when involved in H&W programmes.

So health statistics, evidence, and return on investment, infographics, and Chief Medical Officer Health guidelines aside – how can a health and wellbeing programme translate health benefits into overall business benefits that make a board tick?


Think of a constant source of human interest stories providing a rich source of content to feed social media channels, staff magazines and add value to the external brand. For example a b2b business brand may not reach local / regional communities but Health and Wellbeing activities can add value to brands by exposing your business to new markets and networks through community / employee involvement.

For example award winning health and wellbeing programmes, accreditations (such as Investors in people that include a H&W element) and the achievements of staff circulating their Healthy activities across personal social media networks provides invaluable reach to new audiences.

Ethical Investment

According to data on investor preferences, put together by London-based investment firm IW Capital, 24% of investors would refrain from pursuing an investment decision because of ethical concerns over the product or service.

And consider this, it goes on to state, ‘Of 2,004 respondents, almost a third said the ethical, social or environmental impact of the company they were investing in was just as important as the financial return’.


So an effective Health and wellbeing programme can contribute directly to investment opportunities, brand credibility and new growth markets. And this is true throughout my own observations in business. Contracts, tender and bid documents all require much more information than a quote purely based on the cheapest cost. Procurement Professionals want to know about your business, your employees, credibility and CSR etc.

Suddenly in ‘business speak’ H&W is picking up more momentum than just the ‘it’s the right thing to do’ argument, or an approach based purely on projecting savings through H&W investment. All arguments based on solid evidence may I add, but on their own may not be enough to convince some boardrooms.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

CSR is a little like H&W ‘a nice to do’ or an added extra section on a tender document as a tick box exercise with no real direction or thought going into it. Of course not true of a lot of Organisations who have some innovative H&W programmes.

Virgin Money Lounges are a beautifully crafted example of a CSR agenda tied into brand, reaching new audiences, supporting deprived communities and feeding back into increasing banking customers.




If your business has expertise staff skills be sure to share this across multiple systems (think educational business visits, university fairs, community health and wellbeing programmes etc). Your long term brand floods future recruitment channels – think Talent selection, recruitment and retention. It is a hotly contested job market out there. Potential recruits look for more than just the salary; pay and benefits, an advocate of the brand, health and wellbeing culture…the list goes on.

An example of this is Perkbox – a pay and benefits platform, that has a predominately young workforce and therefore positions its brand as the ‘hip’ ‘cool’ choice of Employer. If you’re one of the best tech graduates you are going to want to work with a brand known for its unique work environment – think a performance work ethic wrapped around fun, plank challenges, chill out areas, social space, bonuses, free fruit/food and games.

Pay and Benefits

REBA held their Health and Wellbeing congress in London a few weeks ago – with input from Debi O’Donovan. It was a mainly HR audience interested in the role of H&W in engagement, policy, recruitment and the ‘bigger picture. Amongst the many fantastic speakers there, one presentation talking about ethical investment was as solid business case for H&W as I have heard with fascinating insight.

Aviva also presented on the power of employee stories regarding mental health and their programme which includes support for employees, training and expert support. Read about the programme here: AVIVA HEALTH AND WELLBEING

If you work for a company you genuinely feel proud to work for, valued, part of the family / brand you are much more likely to perform better. Reciprocation. According to HR Technologist ‘Beyond the salary – A salary is the minimum a company must offer an employee to complete tasks. For work that is immune to quality problems, maybe a salary is enough.


However, in roles where completion is not good enough – where engagement, productivity, and resourcefulness matter – incentives are indispensable. In challenging work, there is no reciprocity without incentives. H&W can be part of those incentives. A business investing in the health of ‘you’ gives a personalisation and caring feel very few benefits can achieve.

The ‘Golf Course Effect

I spoke about this in an article I wrote earlier in the year around health and wellbeing activities outside of work. I made the link between Health and wellbeing activities acting as a driver for increased communication and collaboration in business bringing colleagues from different departments together.

This argument comes back to the point I made about H&W transcending parts of the business other initiatives don’t. Especially true in bigger business, it can indeed act as an educational tool for people to learn about different parts of the business that may not come into contact with each other in normal day to day business operations.

Imagine the difference between a cold email from a colleague in some far distant department further in the supply chain, or an email / call from a colleague you have participated in an activity with and have a rapport with. I’d suggest you would fulfill that request / task to a better level and with a tailored more friendly approach. Great for business.

See more on this article dubbed ‘Employee Health and wellbeing programmes – on “COURSE” to take over “GOLF”!


Cross Sector brand credibility

I can say from experience – the range of health projects and initiatives across the UK at the moment opens up unparalleled opportunities to work with sectors you would have never worked with in daily business operations. But what does this mean? Let me provide an example.

B.Braun Medical Ltd has its Head Quarters in Sheffield and provides industry leading medical products and services across the UK Health sector.

Through a 10 year health and wellbeing programme operating under the brand B.Healthy B.Braun it has links with

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  1. The National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine
  2. Royal Society for Public Health recognised H&W Scheme.
  3. Featured in active travel campaigns for South Yorkshire Transport Executive
  4. Features on the Yorkshire Physical Activity Knowledge Exchange platform
  5. Has regular content in the local and regional media
  6. Has input into the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Health and Wellbeing group
  7. Facilitated a visit by John Lewis to help inform there H&W programme
  8. A case study for the Inmotion active travel campaign,
  9. Features in HR publications around Employee Health and Wellbeing programmes
  10. Featured in the Outdoor City run routes videos for the Sheffield City Region with employees.
  11. Part of the England Athletics LIRF Run England Programme.
  12. Has a large active employee group in short and long walk trips, running groups, onsite activities and colleagues presented at a recent health awards event.

This carousel of activity provides reams of content for marketing as well as positioning the Company as a role model for other business in leading the field of employee H&W locally.

The H&W landscape is vast and knowing where to go, access to resource, tapping into existing schemes can save both time and money going it alone with a H&W programme.

It is my specialist area and I have included a few examples of where you can access these resources from Public Health England for free (link below) and also my slideshare account that contains a selection of H&W reports, examples and presentations.

The synergy

Hopefully you have joined the dots between the six subtitles and made the discovery that H&W gels them altogether. It is hard to pick the most relevant benefit for business, as each Organisation has its own culture, board personalities and all the internal and external factors that influence the way it operates.

I could have filled this article up with fancy infographics, statistics, ROI calculations and the like that are readily available free – check the excellent Public Health England resource out here


It is information I use to inform and drive H&W programmes within business, it is a field I operate in and a landscape I know inside out. But I also have the advantage of working in business, with Boards of Directors on H&W to offer observations and insight into other drivers of H&W programmes that might get missed out by the Public Health sector but offer just as much, if not more power to persuade businesses to invest in employee H&W.


  1. Presentations on physical activity guidelines (2018 Nuffield report), REBA Employer Survey example report, NICE Workplace guidance and example slides of my own H&W initiatives programmes and behavioural change projects

Notable reports and sources of Health information – follow links;

Health Foundation 

Royal Society for Public Health 

Westfield Health

Sport England




Andrew Picken
Member of Royal Society for Public Health
Health and Wellbeing Consultant
National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine (Sheffield)
B.Braun Medical Ltd (Sheffield)
Living Streets Associate (Leeds)
Twitter: @AJPConsultant
Facebook: manbeast28 / Healthinbusiness28

Move More Month onboard to pull a bus

Media advisory: for immediate release


Event: Strong man bus pull at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park

Date: Friday 15 June, 12.30pm and 1.30pm

Venue: Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, Attercliffe Common, Sheffield, S9 3TL


Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park in top gear for Move More bus pull


The world’s strongest junior will bare his biceps to pull a double decker bus along the 100m track at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.


To celebrate the city’s Move More Month, strong man Paul Smith – the youngest person to hold England’s Strongest Man title in 2016-2017 – will haul the 12-tonne vehicle along the track in the centre of the park.

Blackpool saw him pull Blackpool transports 30th anniversary bus with 50 passengers onboard see here –


Paul Smith, 24, from Sheffield, is one of Ultimate Strongman’s Junior Competitors. He won the U23 World Championship in Canada against a strong line up of competitors from all over the world.


The Move More event will take place on Friday 15 June at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, Attercliffe Common, with two bus pulls at 12.30pm and 1.30pm.


There will also be a weightlifting display by Sheffield’s Hallam Barbell Weightlifting Club and the chance to try out the sport.


Members of the public can take a Power Test Challenge on one of Wosskow Brown’s special Watt Bikes – ride the bike for a 10 second burst and the dial on the bike will give a measure of ‘power’.


Specialists from SIV will be on hand to provide information about health and wellbeing opportunities, activities and events in the local area, including sessions at the English Institute of Sport Sheffield and iceSheffield, both part of Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.


The third annual Move More Month is encouraging the people of Sheffield to get active and record their physical activity during June to see how many combined minutes the city can clock up.

ps pull

Movements can be logged on smart phones by a new and free Move More Sheffield app. Once downloaded, the app automatically tracks activity and clocks up users Move More Minutes. It’s part of a bid to make Sheffield the most active city in the UK by 2020.


Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park is one of a number of locations across the city where the public can play Move More hopscotch.


For more information, visit, follow @OLPSheffield on Twitter, like our Olympic Legacy Park page on Facebook or search Legacy Park Ltd on LinkedIn.


Additional information:


Interview, photos and filming opportunities will be available with strong man Paul Smith, plus directors of Move More Month. Journalists can ride on the bus while it is being pulled.


Directions: Please report to <INSERT NAME AND CONTACT DETAILS>


Parking: Free parking is available for journalists <INSERT DETAILS>


Social media hashtag: #MoveMore


Twitter handle: @OLPSheffield @movemoresheff




Notes to editors:


  • Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park is a 2012 Olympic Legacy hub for health and wellbeing collaborative research and learning.
  • Legacy Park Ltd is a joint venture between Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Sheffield City Council, created to deliver the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.
  • On the 60-acre Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park is the English Institute of Sport Sheffield (EISS), iceSheffield, Altitude, Don Valley Bowl, the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC, Oasis Academy Don Valley, UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park campus, 3G pitch, Indoor Arena, Stadium, Hotel and park environment including 100m sprint track, Outdoor City Run Route cycle paths and green open spaces.
  • Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) is set to create innovations that will ‘improve the health of the nation’, tackling key issues such as static levels of physical activity, rising obesity and mental health whilst also attracting new jobs and investment to the region.
  • The £3.5 million Park Community Arena will be the new home for the Sheffield Sharks basketball team and MLS Contracts Ltd. The multi-purpose, indoor facility will have three courts and seating for up to 2,500 spectators.
  • Oasis Academy Don Valley, an all-through inclusive Academy for children aged 2-16, opened on the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park with its first class in September 2015. The Academy will grow year on year until it reaches full capacity in 2021.
  • University Technical College (UTC) Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, part of the UTC Sheffield Academy Trust, is a college for 13 to 19-year olds, specialising in Health Sciences, Sport Science and Computing. Students can start in Y9, Y10 or Y12 to study a combination of GCSEs/A Levels and a technical specialism (OCR Cambridge Technicals and Nationals).
  • Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park will become a research hub for Sheffield’s new National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine using physical activity as medicine and the city of Sheffield as a ‘living laboratory’ for the testing of new innovations.
  • Concept designs for the Centre for Child Health Technology and the Orthopaedic Rehabilitation Research and Innovation Centre have been developed by HLM Sheffield.


Issued by HR Media Ltd on behalf of Legacy Park Ltd. For further information contact Ellie Morrell, Martin Ross or Laura Metcalfe at HR Media on 0114 252 7760.









The Move More workplace challenge 2018 – WHY BE INVOLVED?


There are real business benefits behind the fun of the workplace challenge for the Sheffield City region that runs in June – as part of Sheffield’s Move More strategy to become the most active City in the UK by 2020. Aside from the value placed on an individual’s / employee good health –  the foundation of any workplace wellbeing programme – the return on investment is a boardroom lever that must champion the cause.

Sheffield realises that to hardwire physical activity back into the fabric of peoples lives, linked to improved mental wellbeing as well as physical wellbeing, will have a positive impact on the City’s ability to balance an economy using improved public health outcomes. These interventions to turn the tide of inactivity will reduce hospital admissions and potentially ease the pressure on local health and care systems carrying the burden of inactive populations later in life. An economy boost.

The workplace challenge is a simple way to engage business in an online competition to disseminate the benefits of physical activity to business whilst creating an awareness about Move and More and the World class resources available to business across the City Region. You compete for active minutes = the most active workplace wins and it isn’t too late to enter here NOW –

Move More initiatives cover schools, community and public sector partnerships to ensure positive health outcomes across the City’s health system are achieved with a particular focus on addressing inactivity.

In a workplace context move more is constantly evolving using reflection and learning to tailor approaches to getting people to move more. Supported by behavioural change principles and evidence based practice driven by academic expertise move more can contribute to effective health and wellbeing programmes across business.

See my article here on embedding physical activity across business functions including Human Resources

Use the free move more toolkit (brand assets and logos) to show your contribution and support for one of the UK’s most visionary strategies tackling population level inactivity across its City residents.


And physical activity is a real driver for employee engagement, Health and safety prevention strategies, contributing to pay and reward programmes and an absolute content machine for marketing, talent recruitment and retention. A valued employee working at a ‘great’ company that invests in employee health can be a deal breaker.

We have developed a suite of move more resources, products and systems such as elite sports engineering equipment. These systems can track activity levels using sensors and NFC Technology linked to bespoke workplace challenges. We also have a new system of programmed lights in buildings that go up stairs at different paces to encourage physical activity using stair climbing as just a few examples.


So join in the workplace challenge and try and scoop the prestigious ‘most active workplace award’. Email to me to find out how we can make your workplace active and activate move more buildings and people to move more with our expertise using behavioural change methods and employee engagement strategies.

Come down and see us at the Olympic Legacy Park 12 pm Friday 15th June where England’s strongest man 2016 will pull a Double DECKER BUS for move more month – free spectacle.  Olympic Legacy Park, Attercliffe Common, Sheffield S9 3TL.


Or partner move more as part of your wider marketing or CSR Strategy to be part of the making Sheffield the most active City in the UK by 2020 –



Move More Month is the National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicines’ initiative to encourage Employers to encourage more movement at work, or champion the benefits of physical activity. We do this using a Move More smartphone app and website to track active minutes during the month of June.
Awards for the most active Business are presented after the month, you can use social media to highlight your efforts as individuals / teams or as a business and all whilst encouraging others to move more. This feeds into Sheffield’s ambition to become the most active City in the UK by 2020.
The challenge is free and you can sign up now using the link below – this will work for any other businesses you send this link to too. You just need team(s) of 10 people and an email address.
Registration is 5 minutes and can be done NOW. Once you have registered you will be prompted shortly to enter teams ready for the start of June.
You can be included in the Move More Month launch event. HR media and the regional papers will be involved covering businesses involved in Move More Month.
This year we are also looking at sponsored hopscotches either at business premises or some of the City Centre locations we have identified where you can have your business logo sprayed next to the temporary hopscotch.
Our hopscotches are designed to encourage people to have some fun and promote being active outside and can be sponsored at only £300 each.



Cost effective Health and Wellbeing consultancy and support offered to business. Can be integrated into HR, H&S, Pay and Benefits, Corporate Social Responsibility and marketing.

Andy Picken – over 12 years public and private sector health and wellbeing project management experience. DIPHE Health Promotion, DIP Copywriting, IOSH Health Safety for Managers, BA (Hons) in Sport , Health & Management, HND Leisure management Emergency First Aid at work trained.

Currently work for the NCSEM (National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine) 2.5 days a week across the Yorkshire Region, B.Braun Medical Ltd as their employee health and wellbeing consultant 1 day a week and have clients such as John Lewis on an ad hoc basis I work with.

Previous work with Sheffield University students union, N Power, Living Street, Leeds Public Health and Sheffield City Council.

Available for long or short term projects.

SERVICE AND PRICE LISTS HERE:   price lists2017-18



Business Health ‘the new’ golf course

Employee Health and wellbeing programmes – on “COURSE” to take over “GOLF”!


We all know that one sport became synonymous with business networking, deals and bringing Organisations together: Golf. It also conjured images up of being a more upper class sport, expensive equipment, driving the golf buggy – work colleagues in tow and staying over at some amazing locations. The sport of Directors and CEO’s. Of course that’s not totally true, but that’s the interpretation.

The principle of activities outside work creating synergy across business departments and indeed opening up new contacts across sectors hasn’t changed. Golf indeed gave that time between shots to talk business, a rather easier concept than talking during a 10k run with your heart bouncing around 75% of its maximum capacity!


But what has changed is the digital environment we now operate within and that has made walking, outdoor pursuits, running and various physical challenges a part of business and very visible to other Companies and potential customers. A more accessible out of work activity than golf. Whether in a B2C or B2B environment that outside branding is vital to business. Ask brand experts or your marketing Guru’s.


Word Cloud Social Marketing

I wanted to carry a different perspective to the usual angle of H&W business cases in this article ; employee absences, risk reduction of type 2 diabetes, reduced MSK, improved mental health etc etc. If you don’t know about how to tackle these risk factors you should. Look around my blog for articles on the ROI, business case and long term projections of running a H&W programme.

This article looks at the power of customer reach through H&W programmes. I have decided to look at how H&W acts as a mechanism for marketing, principally social media. Social media needs fuel, and that fuel is new, fun and engaging content. Health and wellbeing is that fuel. Especially useful for business that operates in a ‘less cool’ sector, or without the brand funkiness of say A Nike or desirable brand WITH MASS APPEAL.

H&W evens out the field. For example B.Braun Medical Ltd I work with on a freelance basis provide medical equipment and products to the NHS and are innovators in their field with a reputation founded on ‘sharing expertise’. Operating in a predominately B2B environment gives little exposure of the brand to the more general population.

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However the employee H&W programme provides that lever. Employees have been filmed by Sheffield’s ‘OUTDOOR CITY’  running the Cities run routes as part of a promotion and came runners up as the most active workplace in Sheffield at an awards ceremony held at Westfield health for Move More. Just two examples of many this year.


Move More is the Cities ambition and strategy to become the most active City in the UK by 2020 and is run through the National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine. B.Braun Medical have worked with Move More and thus made links right across the public, private and VCS Sectors – beyond their traditional markets.


Active employees quite happily carry the business brand around localities during fundraising challenges, triathlons, marathons – you name it. This means health and wellbeing has become a marketing machine in its own right. B.Braun even have their own in house brand for the programme.


Considering the average Facebook user has 338 friends (Source: Brandwatch) and videos have the highest engagement rates those post selfie videos and photos by 20/30 people could potentially be reaching 9000 people. Free!

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And with employee health and wellbeing being predicted by Marketing week to be one of the trends of 2018, if you haven’t took note then maybe 2018 is the year you do. Not only is it a proactive approach to protecting your workforces health (principally my priority), contributing to the bottom line, it is also a highly visible company benefit that’s an excellent driver in any social media or marketing strategy. H&W trend 2018

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The Financial times wrote an article on health and wellbeing being the ‘cool’ company benefit.  The likes of Vitality are rewarding healthy behaviours with some innovative technologies. Westfield Health are centred around ‘choose smarter’, live better – supporting health and wellbeing. Nuffield Health also provide a full health and wellbeing service partnering with the Vitality platform.

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Brand exposure is about timing as much as it is targeting. Trends are one way to do this but often disappear as quick as they come. Therefore preparing a solid health and wellbeing plan now will have much wider benefits than just the health of your staff. It’s a business driver and therefore another reason its importance should rise on the boardroom agenda.

It is also a trend that unlike most is probably here to stay. H&W contributes to HR engagement strategies, Health and Safety agendas and more and more the pay and benefits arena. For example the British Safety Council are particular active on Wellbeing as a driver of Health and Safety compliance and good practice. Culture change is the objective.

But now hopefully this article has made you aware of another indirect benefit of employee H&W programmes. A benefit that has appeared quietly on the back of social media but offers an opportunity to reach audiences untapped.

In the World of talent recruitment and attracting the best people to spearhead your business check these survey results out.

Capita Employee Benefits Insight Report arevealed that 44.8 percent of respondents would judge an employer based on the quality of the health and wellbeing packages they offer.

This is particularly valued by higher earners where nearly half (48.8) percent of employees earning over £45,000 a year said they would evaluate their employer or potential employer on the strength of their commitment to employee wellbeing. This suggests it’s NOT just the pull of the salary figure and company car.

And last but not least the cost of such initiatives? Well, apart from benefits such as cycle to work schemes, health insurance, saving plans and access to virtual GP’s etc with a bit of time and planning additional benefits can be built up through an in-house H&W programme / calendar.

Check out one of the companies I work with and who I have referenced in this article: B. Braun Medical Ltd. This 2018 H&W programme (not including my time) is roughly done for around £5000 per 6 months. See what is delivered for that amount of investment B.Braun H&W 2018 Summary

In marketing terms alone (forgetting long term cost savings in terms of staff ill health) consider this. The average price for a full page local paper advert is £3,000 and for a National paper £27,000. The social media reach of a H&W programme massively outperforms these media offerings.

And H&W provides a revolving carousel of content and positive marketing stories. A printed story is set in stone once it is published. Your next story costs the same. But in the social media world a clever article or story with a Press Release will get picked up by media anyway to add value to their publication. Best bit: FREE!

We also know quirky marketing works well and in the PR world is the bread and butter of media reach. Such examples are the tug of war we ran with England’s strongest man in business that really did ‘PULL’ in some social media reach.

So maybe now is the time to give some serious thought to how you can embed a health and wellbeing programme across your staff. And if you are struggling there are free resources you can get involved in.

June 2018 sees the annual SHEFFIELD move more workplace challenge take place which provides a website that logs steps and active minutes over the course of a month to see who can be the most active. The publicity is huge and the competitiveness drives the fun of being involved. Best of all its free to Sheffield business.


If you are reading this and would like your own in house activity challenge across your business we can provide a bespoke website platform and run it for you. With advice on how to promote your initiative to outside audiences. It is also a great way to get people moving – especially important for desk based workforces.

Examples of some of B.Braun Medical Ltd’s media coverage and Move More collaboration.


Andrew Picken

Health and Wellbeing Consultant

National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine (Sheffield)





Twitter: @AJPConsultant

Facebook: manbeast28 / Healthinbusiness28

The ‘Health’ in safety and the ‘safety’ in health

move-more-web-banner-300x250 learnfesttugofwarcrowd

Health and wellbeing – an essential employee and employer benefit

We know there are around 131 million days lost due to ill health and an estimated £9 billion spent on illness and associated costs at work. It’s staggering. We know that MSK –musculoskeletal – issues (31 million days lost)  is the top health at work issue followed by colds (27 million days lost) and stress, anxiety or depression (15 million days lost). Source: Public Health England.

We know the emerging trends. On average over 7 hours is spent sat down (including driving to and from work) with the USA National library of medicine suggesting over 8 hours in its study. Being sedentary is a threat. MSK and stress feed off the prolonged time we spend sat down, often under pressure.


Just like improving work practices, office ergonomics, RIDDOR protocols and so forth, wellbeing deserves the same focus. It’s the elephant in the room, the darkening shadow, the intangible becoming the tangible. The statistics reveal its sinister intentions.

Working lives are busy. Time is a precious commodity. Exercise is the chore, but regular movement is key to combatting some of these statistics. Public Health England’s campaign is about movement. Active 10 is just that. Packaging walking into a 10 minute window. There is a free website for any organisation to utilise full of free resources, facts and top tips on healthy workplaces. active 10


Forget gyms and marathons. Think stairs, using the toilet on the top floor, an active commute or getting up and walking to your colleague’s desk instead of using the phone or instant message facilities. It arguably has more benefits in small regular movement patterns than that one gym session with no movement for the rest of the day.

And lets not forget the talent war currently on in Germany’s ‘Silver Economy, where blue chip business such as EON and Daimler are using H&W to lever employee loyalty and look after their employees. Not to mention the benefits of being active and having access to a H&W programme in terms of keeping people in work longer and mitigating some of the potential issues of a rapidly ageing workforce,

So not only is Health and Wellbeing transcending HR policy, H&S and Pay and benefits it is seen as a vehicle to remain competitive and aid communication. Lets be honest corporate fitness challenges such as running and obstacle courses are the new ‘GOLF COURSE’ in terms of networking, collaboration and business deals.#

Japan is another economy heavily reliant on an ageing workforce and to help manage that the office environment oozes movement with a movement based start to the day and regular breaks. They value that the human body responds to movement well so promote it. In the UK we have normalised sitting and removed movement from our lives. Although the evidence base is quickly gaining momentum to reverse that trend.


Public health has struggled for years to convince the Nation to lead healthier lifestyles – with some spectacular failures. Seen as though we spend 35% (of our waking lives over a 50 year lifespan) at work it offers the perfect vehicle to instigate culture change.

Breaking the ‘it’s how we do things around here’ attitude and turning it toward a more proactive health and wellbeing approach is one such solution to turning the tide on the elephant in the room. The ‘safety’ of knowing we are tackling poor health at work is yet another key component of the preventative levers that span across the health and safety, HR an Pay and benefits agenda.

I am qualified to coach running and resistance exercise, and do this in some workplaces, but really the BIG TICKET stuff to culture change isn’t the exercise classes and even onsite gym (although both are beneficial).

The big ticket items are normalising activity (re in Japan movement takes place in the office not a gym environment). No one bats an eyelid. Its as normal as brushing your teeth a habitual activity.  Why gyms don’t always work


And in today’s world of social media madness quirkiness plays its part in employee engagement. Stair use instead of the lifts, regular walking breaks and walking meetings are all a great way to enthuse staff and encourage movement – forget the gym in this instance.


Or gamifying movement can help people to stay motivated and instigate long term behavioural change. See our shopping centre trial earlier in year at Meadowhall – Sheffield. Meadowhall fitness sensors



What we can conclude is that Health and Wellbeing is a safety measure beyond enforcement, but activating a strategy to keep business safe from high ill health rates, protecting employees, attracting the best talent, been an innovator and thus gaining that competitive edge. Why wouldn’t you nurture that?

For all health and wellbeing strategy, delivery and evaluation contact me at



Andrew Picken

Health and Wellbeing Consultant

National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine (Sheffield)





Twitter: @AJPConsultant

Facebook: manbeast28 / Healthinbusiness28

Health at work is lame, evidence presented by the ‘Dame’ – Carol Black


Dame Carol Black said it in her own words ‘ do not ignore the fact mental health and physical activity are intimately interwoven’. This was at Tuesday’s seminar in Manchester with Nuffield Health and Vitality. They launched their partnership where she spoke passionately on the importance, not enforcement, of the health and wellbeing function in business.


James Murray MD of Vitality and Nuffield; Healthy workplace opened the event and spoke about the metrics of the Vitality platform to monitoring health and wellbeing, whilst Shaun Subel, the Director of Strategy at Vitality Health, gave an overview of analytics and insights into the ROI and business case for H&W.

I have a lot of experience in health in the workplace but Carol’s presentation was powerful. In my eyes Carol is the guru of health in the workplace after writing her paper on the subject nearly 10 years ago – we need to keep driving the business case for Health and wellbeing forward.

That report is the driving force behind the momentum health and wellness has gained over the last few years in the acknowledgement of the new way we work and the implications of how we have removed movement from our lives being one of the issues. And that movement, outdoor exposure and resulting chemical changes from exercise is becoming a key force in managing not just our physical health but managing mental health conditions too.

Indeed such is the correlation between mental and physical health, and the resulting benefits of exposure to natural environments whilst exercising, the notion of everyday movement is a key milestone in the way we approach patient centred care. How do we meaningfully impact on modifiable behaviours to mitigate the risk of conditions, mental and physical, which we have the lifestyle tools to provide solutions. And by addressing these factors Employers can control, to some extent, the impact on their business from ill health.

In essence the bottom line of this scenario is how do we reduce GP visits and entry points into the National Health Service to treat conditions that potentially can be prevented with proactive initiatives concerning public health. Based on a 50 year working life, 35% of our total waking hours (on the basis of 8 hours sleep) is at work. Therefore work is pivotal in its influence to provide opportunities to manage our health.


Think depression, diabetes, obesity, MSK, and how we can offset often chaotic and fast paced lives with the need to balance and limit exposure to pressure through exercise, the social benefits of collective exercise, valued employees, time away from the desk, limits on technology use and that all important past time ‘just being outside’. Green is the new clean…clean up our lives. Back to basics – call it what you want, that walk holds far more value than just the benefits of exercise.

Another great statement from Carol was around the feelings of staff who feel they are valued, invested in and cared about by their Employer and line manager. That vibe if you like, a hard to measure by-product of feeling valued is of huge benefit to HR. Talent recruitment and staff retention. A health and wellbeing policy and programme that’s consistent, relevant and engaging is the tool to create this feeling. Incentives key to employee involvement.


Fact: valued employees are more loyal. When I feel valued and I recognise the company benefits available to me it sticks with me. I work harder for the business. I want to feel I deserve that value by proving my worth. In essence as humans we reciprocate – we essentially respond to a gesture or action with a corresponding one. In a work context this is usually high quality work and a dedication to the duties of the role.

Health and wellbeing opportunities in business stimulate reciprocation. The workforce will generally respond. Not only that but ‘word of mouth’ marketing by employees – keen to tell their family and social networks about their company benefits which is a self-propelled brand promotion exercise. Free!

But much more than that H&W is that pro-active mechanism that minimises business risk and ill health in an ageing workforce by recognising the plethora of information we have on the state of play and designing interventions to impact those statistics positiviely.

We are living longer. Our retirement age is older. MSK still poses a serious risk in our ‘sit down do nothing culture’. For example when we sit we exert 40% more pressure on our spine than standing. When we are slouching its over double the pressure at 90% more force than standing on the spine.


If that isn’t a reason to move more I don’t know what is. Then there is mental health, that dark shadow at the back of the room costing the economy the largest amount of money ££££ in terms of duration of absences and returning to work.

Carol likes the word outcomes. Maybe originating from her clinical background but the term is highly relevant in health and wellbeing formulation and strategy. I like it. Input = deliverables / initiatives (behaviour change principles), output (results of intervention e.g. attendances / engagement levels), and outcome (reduced injuries / improved productivity / reduced absenteeism rates).


The metrics we use to analyse these health behaviours are getting better – technology playing a huge part in monitoring our behaviours to track present actions and encourage corrective actions.

But still underpinning all this is the boardroom. The steer of culture, the engine room of processes and the decision maker that effects the workforce. A clear belief in the value of H&W at this level and the corresponding investment will help harness the experience and knowledge of an ageing workforce, with the balance to manage and sustain ‘in work’ strategies. The future of business is bright.

I work for the NCSEM – as part of Move More Sheffield  – to achieve the City wide vision to get Sheffield the most active City in the UK by 2020 and also consult with B.Braun Medical on Employee Health and Wellbeing

Andrew Picken

Health and Wellbeing Consultant

National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine (Sheffield)





Twitter: @AJPConsultant

Facebook: manbeast28 / Healthinbusiness28

Business Wise – On Exercise

Knees up to Health and Wellbeing in business.


I attended a seminar at B.Braun Medical Ltd where I work managing their Employee Health and Wellbeing programme this week. The subject was Aesculap knee replacements and how technology is increasingly playing a role in a surgeon’s ability to ensure greater success through precision alignment.


It was fascinating. Working for a business that supplies such innovative products to the NHS it was just as interesting to hear about the role of exercise in rehabilitation. Equally so was the dispelling of myths such as  – ‘runners will be more prone to knee injury’.


In fact marathon runners and people that exercise provide themselves with a loading effect on the knee that helps sustain knee health and thus are less prone to knee problems overall. Of course as we age things wear out and that’s fact. But again regular exercise plays a key role in maintaining function of our bodies through our lifespan from the cardio system, muscles, bone strength and joints.


Our bodies, bones, tissues and muscle work in harmony to defy gravity and enable us to move. Our heart (a muscle), responds to physical activity adapting to the load we put on it. Our muscles adapt and increase in relation to our activity levels, weight training and the ‘loading effect’.

Indeed in Space, where gravity is nil, NASA conducted studies to try and maintain strength through exercising 5 hours a week in space but still saw up to a 32% decrease in peak power in the calf muscles. Wow.


This study is particularly interesting in relation to the older population in terms of how we lose strength (muscle atrophy), and indeed what might be the most effective exercise programmes to help maintain strength. Why? Independency, lower admission rate into hospitals and improving overall quality of life.

Back to the knee – post operation. Some trusts are using wearable devices to monitor patients with knee replacements to make sure they exercise. A successful outcome, as often described by B. Braun Medical is ‘ the forgotten joint’. In other words patients carry on as normal with the same functionality as a natural knee joint.

To ensure this outcome exercise plays a key role in loading the knee to ensure functionality. Not only that but confidence in the knee from the patient. We were designed to move. So exercise yet again comes up as the miracle drug.

Of course this is not forgetting the studies into exercise and positive mental health benefits, reducing type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, heart issues, obesity and the plethora of conditions and health problems we could reduce simply by moving. I have covered these in more depth in my previous blog posts.

Exercise therefore can play a vital role in business by creating a sustainable workforce, staff retention, decreased absences and accommodate an ageing workforce that is more than likely going to be in work longer. Reducing the wear and tear through inactivity, but providing a work environment that nurtures movement and promotes health is the same clinical method to managing pre and post operation patients. Whole health.


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So a healthy business needs a thriving workforce see –

Indeed a workforce that is adaptable, engaged, rewarded and provided with opportunities to move more will ensure business function and success. Just like the human body.

Employee Health and wellbeing (H&W) has undoubtedly gained momentum. No longer the elephant in the room, the monthly free fruit or odd exercise class thrown in, but now a function or dedicated role in Business with a pivotal part to play in responding to employees varying needs.

H&W links and transcends business functions. Human resources, Health and safety, pay and benefits, brand building, marketing and the emerging growth of CSR roles. The synergy is clear to see.

It’s a vehicle to aid communication, align departments in big business together or minimise employee absences in smaller businesses that can have huge effects on business operations. Its ‘ethical’ or ‘the right thing to do’ origins have been replaced by the business tangibles. Hard fact ill health costs. For instance mental health lone costs the economy a staggering £70 billion a year. (Source: Public Health England).


H&W is also dynamic and diverse. In the not too distant future workforce demographics will change. It won’t be uncommon to have a young apprentice working alongside a 70 year old. The workforce is an ageing population. How do we cater for the different needs of our employees? Or how do we ensure ‘active ageing’ to support people in work longer through H&W embedded in HR strategy and Occupational Health services.

Workplace environments will have to change, policy will need to be redefined and therefore embedding such things as a proactive H&W strategy now will save £££’s compared to a reactive approach. Physical activity and movement is a compelling business case in itself to manage and reduce risk across multiple factors including long term absences attributed to conditions related to inactivity.

See the workplace health video here

How do we do this? 10 minutes of movement (walking for example) in regular bouts to break up long sitting periods at the desk. Stair use instead of the lifts – active travel – cycle / walking to work where feasible. It fosters the culture that we need to create. See Public Health England’s active 10 campaign ACTIVE 10


With these changes comes opportunities and challenges. A one size fits all H&W approach isn’t the answer. A few sporadic health initiatives here and there are not enough to make a meaningful impact on the metrics used to evaluate its impact.

At Board level H&W is hard tangibles. What is the ROI / Business case and how does this work toward the corporate objectives and vision? This conjures a question. For H&W to even have a chance to succeed it must be at the very top level of an Organisation. It must be credible, recognised and feed into major business growth ambitions.

It is the same as someone going for a few walks to improve fitness levels every so often over a year. It’s not enough. To succeed in fitness the ‘exercise load’ needs to be consistent and regular. H&W strategy needs to be consistent and the load changed. Diversity, variety and underpinned by behavioural change methodology will help engagement.


H&W is no longer a nice to have, but a mechanism to drive growth through a sustainable workforce and influence policy to reflect the changing world around us. The Private sector is arguably better placed at this than the public sector, able to respond and drive innovation through its own product design that can translate to its own in house policy to foster healthy working practices at all levels.

The public sector is in some ways the vehicle that delivers the communication and evidence base for health and wellbeing very well – with little ambition internally of how it implements that agenda to its own workforce. That’s my own opinion. However its private business that has the ability to respond with practice and become a leader in the unprecedented growth of workplace health and wellbeing which increased movement plays a huge part in.



Andrew Picken

Health and Wellbeing Consultant

National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine (Sheffield)





Twitter: @AJPConsultant

Facebook: manbeast28 / Healthinbusiness28

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