Brand on Heart: Health and Wellbeing in the Boardroom.

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Re-modelling the employee experience. From on-boarding, induction, culture – health and wellbeing (H&W) can be one of the tools to help achieve business aims by creating positive employee experience journeys. Why does this carry WEIGHT in the boardroom?

The employee experience is a key driver in enhancing brand and reinforcing business values. At a business to business level it is a way to create a customer facing brand that in normal business operation wouldn’t exist.

I am writing this short article to pin point specific business advantages of investing in Health and wellbeing beyond reducing the impact of absenteeism, specific ROI and long term cost savings. Those figures are available and hard facts. But the indirect benefits of H&W are sometimes missed by Public Health professionals.

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The sorts of things that make the ears prick up of the Board when Health and wellbeing is spoken about in a specific business context have to be relevant to the strategic objectives of that organisation. Linking H&W with overall business strategy is the most vital thing you can do.

Health and wellbeing approaches fall short when they are approached with a one size fits all approach. To be truly inclusive an approach needs to define its audience and pick out the relevant ‘touch points’ that will engage people. This goes for the boardroom too.

Now this could be at an employee level (behaviour change led initiatives – time to talk, encouraging physical activity), influencing culture change through small nudges to change employee behaviour, or at board level.

The diversity of H&W means it can be tailored to suit different contexts and audiences. In truth H&W is relevant to everyone. But in a business context here are some key points to think about when trying to achieve buy in from the Board using nudges and relevancy;

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  1. Business strategy. What is the business seeking to achieve (increased sales, expanding into new markets, recruitment drive? To create ‘relevancy make sure a H&W Business case ties in with this. How does it support sales increases? What are the links with the proodcut/service?

 

  1. Brand value / Mission statement. Sometimes this is harder to pin point but H&W will always have a link. Articulate this. A vision is often a good way to find the link.

 

  1. Competitive recruitment markets. The power of social media and voice in attracting the best talent, and retaining talent using pay and benefits, employer brand and working policies conducive to health and wellbeing. Employees are the number one asset to any business. Highlight this.

 

  1. Know your personalities. What characters have you on the board? What are their interests outside and inside of work? Again remain relevant to their values and key interests.

 

  1. The value of been seen to be doing ‘good’. As a business a positive and forward thinking Organisations with a reputation around valuing their staff can quickly form place based networks in none traditional markets, opening up new business opportunities for future growth.

 

  1. Becoming a voice and champion on Health and Wellbeing. Another great way to add visibility to overall brand exposure. Carving out an expert voice in learning from what works and doesn’t in successful H&W approaches will do wonders for opening up new networks and opportunities.

 

  1. H&W activity should extend to offer opportunities outside of work through events with a fun / social theme. To maximise these events extend this to include family and friends of the employee. Who doesn’t like to have a free opportunity to give someone else for a company they work for? Powerful.

 

  1. Most organisations are always seeking ways to improve collaboration, communication and performance. H&W strands every one of these key business metrics. Use them to bolster the H&W proposition.

 

  1. Link the H&W strategy to wider CSR objectives. Be connected to your local and regional public health & community network to find out about the plethora of activity already going you can link in to. Often for free.

 

Human Resources as a department and role is a rapidly changing business function stretched across a wide remit aside from its everyday core operating tasks; employee engagement, employee disputes, health and wellbeing, pay and benefits and so on. H&W can contribute to many of these extra tasks.

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There are no doubts that modern working environments have improved drastically from those of previous eras. Coming from a former mining town,  generations of my family spent times underground working in conditions that would be unthinkable right now.

In today’s world our working environments are much better. Technology has made communication easier and improved business functions from efficiency, speed even creating new markets for business to service and innovate.

But the core, meaningful and purposeful values still exist for employees that some of these advancements have impacted on, in my view negatively.

Communication. Social media, instant messaging and email are amazing tools. In some ways my job relies on it. For the younger generation there is a push to provide opportunities for re-establishing those meaningful social interactions in real time. Technology can sometimes serve as a distraction.

In business taking time to visit your colleague in person should be encouraged. Connecting the H&W activity to this agenda – collective groups completing an activity together whether that be exercise in whatever form, shared interest or a conversation. All these opportunities are a way to nudge these behaviours. As a species we rely on social connection.

The old working men’s clubs or social clubs of time gone by; a place people congregated together outside of work coming together to dance, have some drinks all helped to forge a sense of community. The corporate outings that include families are hugely powerful at connecting people. To some extent we have lost this.

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Examples of some of my H&W activities have been weekend shorter and longer walks for families, free bouncing sessions and trampoline parks for employees, family and friends, learning to dragon boat and so forth. Activities based around fun.

I could easily write 10,000 words on H&W as it is such a huge area with many different strands which can very easily go off topic. So to round – up and conclude I would like to reiterate the following points in articulating H&W strategy buy in at Board / Director Level with what I have discussed;

  1. Relevancy
  2. Link to business product or service
  3. Brand visibility
  4. Marketing strategy
  5. Content and human interest stories
  6. HR / Recruitment strategy
  7. Creating a voice beyond traditional business network.

 

Andrew Picken

Member of Royal Society for Public Health

http://www.ajphealth.com

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