Using Health and well-being to shape employer brand



This is an article about Health and Wellbeing in the workplace and its role across business function to help shape HR policy, enhance pay & benefit function, aid employee engagement and that all important “employee experience’ that Employers must manage.

But first of all I want to set the scene particular in a workplace and business context – it’s important.

Remember the good old days ‘of a job for life’. Local Government was probably the Employer of choice for my generation with the attraction been pensions schemes, job security and stability combined with good career progression.


Source: Think health and wellbeing

But how that has changed. A combination of Public cuts has led to fixed term contracts, impacting on the period paying into pensions and uncertain job security. Take away two key assets away from Local Government and it becomes a lot less appealing. Especially to the millennial generation with very different expectations. hr exchange network

Rebuilding a house of Health and Wellbeing (see graphic above) is one way to help offset other benefits lost in a changing and dynamic economy.


This isn’t a scathing attack on Local Government but a perspective on Employer brand which impacts on recruitment retention, recruitment and talent attraction. The HR function has such a broad range of challenges and expectation to deliver on from an ever changing employee landscape within a policy framework that needs to accommodate changing work practices.

What should have happened to negate these cuts to public service is an overhaul of the pay and benefits structure, incentives and building a proposition that makes LA attractive again in the face of it losing the strength of its job security and pension assets. In my experience (this isn’t with every LA), many are failing to meet the expectation of the millennial and next generation of workers.

LA 1

A secret weapon is adopting a Health and Wellbeing approach which looks at working environment, culture, external and internal marketing, pay and benefits and that all important social strand outside work. Remember the good old work social clubs – are they the next big thing in a different guise in terms of Employee offer?

See my other article here which goes into more depth on H&W and business function links –  Health and Wellbeing ‘Its none of your business’?

In the Private sector recruitment is an important strategy to remain competitive and making sure talented individuals are added to the team, as well as keeping the best performing individuals there. In a fierce job market it takes way more than the ‘usual’ perks to achieve this – and in a budget restrained environment some creativity.

So here comes the silver bullet, a once ‘nice to do’ and often overlooked add on function to an existing role – Health and Wellbeing. Free fruit, the odd exercise class, communications around health (still a good start), has now evolved into a more stand-alone function that has the ability to span every business function. And why. Because it is about people.


There isn’t anything else that has the ability to make people feel safe, invested in and cared for than health – something important to us all on an individual, family and social level. Providing opportunities around Health and wellbeing beyond just health insurance, cash care plans and clinical services (all  great benefits) focused on a preventative agenda is key. Inject this with a little fun, incentives, benefits, engagement and opportunity and you have an all singing all dancing brand.

And what has brand got to do with Health and Wellbeing? Let me offer an example. Say you are a B2B (business to business) operation. Very well established in your sector, a ton of credibility but little face/brand voice in a B2C context (business to customer).


An active employee H&W programme offers links locally, involves you in networks otherwise you wouldn’t be in normal business operations and provides a carousel of content and human interest stories so important to marketing strategies.

Perkbox area great example of brand building specifically positioning themselves at the tech savvy young graduate with a cool chic feel employee experience, placing emphasis on rewarding high performance with active culture, incentives *& rewards and buzzing social scene. As a fresh graduate why would you not gravitate to the perkbox brand rather than the Local Government bland brand?

Twinkl, an education resource based Business, runs a host of activities across health and wellbeing for its employees and provides resources  Twinkl wellbeing

Swinging this article around full circle remember recruitment? Branding. Whether B2B, B2C or Local Government what your employees say, are involved in and have access to will speak volumes to perspective candidates seeking work. H&W is an important lever to push your recruitment and Employer presence across social media that has enormous power.


Aviva UK have ‘Health Heroes’ championing employee health internally initiating activities. These activities not only enhance employee experience but also infilterate employees social media feeds spreading ‘the great to place work’ message.  Aviva Health

B.Braun Medical Ltd in Sheffield have an internal facing H&W brand ‘B Healthy B. Braun that feeds into Employee engagement, experience and social health activities whilst feeding content through new external networks across the City establishing itself as an Employer focused on Employee Health. B.BRAUN

B health image green smaller (2)

Millennials have different expectations. Physical workplace, chill out zones, nearer to home (less travel), flexible and remote working, perks, social connectivity and of course the ‘gig economy’. All important consideration in HR strategy.  The gig economy could be a freelancer servicing many contracts (I work this way), H&W connects me to my contracts and workplaces giving a sense of ‘collectiveness’ to remote working.


What comes with remote working could be ‘disconnect’ in terms of face to face situations. If business can be performed at home, in a coffee shop or on the go – is health and wellbeing activity the sticking glue in connecting that person back to the physical workplace whether social opportunities (think weekend walks / opportunities for family events provided through work)?

I get some of my greatest engagement putting events on outside work that includes family friendly activities e.g. an event I have held 4 times at the UK’s largest Indoor inflatable park – Jump inc’flatable. A fun environment for employees and families to have access to the park exclusively – the feedback is great and it provides an opportunity to communicate the other H&W offerings.


Now focus on ‘exclusivity’. Another BIG LEVER. What you as an employer offer others don’t. That offer keeps people. Not wanting to let go of something you feel is important to you. Friends and families comment on your workplace activities and what you have available to you – it instills a sense of pride.

And with National Health and wellbeing awards bringing the industry’s leading best practice examples and rewarding innovators the likes of RSPH  REBA   have two excellent days dedicated to learning from others and a top awards night for H&W in the workplace.

  • rsph  REBA

To conclude I didn’t want to write yet another article purely on key sick absence causes or trends – we know these, the evidence is clear, return on investment projection statistics available and credible business case support all over the internet.

What I wanted to touch on is the other opportunities that an active H&W programme and offer has to employers. The links with business strategy, recruitment & retention and the ability to shape positive employee experiences that appeal and resonate with differing employee expectations.

See Health as business opportunities Business Health ‘the new’ golf course


A broad and flexible workplace offer that can be tailored to individuals and accommodate current and emerging working practices is something H&W programmes have the leverage to shape and bring business benefits far wider than just reducing sickness rates. Think wider.


Andrew Picken

Member of Royal Society For Public Health

Workplace Health Lead and independent consultant.

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