Business Health ‘the new’ golf course

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

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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!

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

http://www4.shu.ac.uk/mediacentre/sheffield-set-%E2%80%98move-more%E2%80%99-again

https://www.employeebenefits.co.uk/issues/july-online-2016/b-braun-medical-holds-employee-wellbeing-activity-week-for-staff/

 

Andrew Picken

ajp28consultancy@gmail.com

Health and Wellbeing Consultant

National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine (Sheffield)

Sprotborough

Doncaster

DN5 8EZ

07887400202

Twitter: @AJPConsultant

Facebook: manbeast28 / Healthinbusiness28

Healthy workforce – Healthy business

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It has always been a challenge to articulate the business case at board level for investment in employee Health and wellbeing programmes. Years ago it was an ‘add on’, a nice to have ‘accessory’ made up of discounted gym memberships and if you were lucky the odd exercise session after work thrown in.

Years ago work was by nature physical, even if the working conditions weren’t anywhere near as good as they are now. But as the nature of our work changes so does the business approach to Health and Wellbeing. With a history of little purpose or strategy the once health and wellbeing vision was held by a few enthusiastic employers putting on challenges and leisure opportunities for staff outside of work.

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For a large majority of us we are sat down too much. We may drive to work, sit at our desk for 8 hours a day, and drive back. Physical activity has effectively been erased out of our lives. Our job doesn’t require it, our lack of time restricts it, and quite frankly it’s too tiring to think about.

Physical activity means gyms after all. Those artificial environments made up of vests, lycra and strange weight machines which for a lot of us just doesn’t appeal. Exercise is sweat, muscles, marathons and the unachievable. Quite the opposite physical activity is that regular movement throughout the day. Stairs, work and at home. Normal, non – threatening environments. That way physical activity becomes normal.

So Health and wellbeing to business is promoting and improving the physical and mental health of its workforce through creating a collective sense of doing something good. Physical environment and its effects on mood and mental health. Health initiatives that are fun and help absorb the pressures of work and personal lives. The benefits of physical activity and the by product: endorphins that improve mood and stabilise energy levels.

The recognition of personal pressures, family caring responsibilities, personal difficulties all have the potential to snowball and become harder to juggle with work. No one is immune.

But in today’s world Health and Wellbeing isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ in business It now transcends that many policy areas, meets multi departmental objectives and is a catalyst for transformational change it levers reach far further than that accessory tag it once held.

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Let me explain. I sometimes like the analogy of business as an engine. Every component has a job to do that is interdependent on the next component. You need fuel as an energy source, a spark and oxygen to create a controlled explosion and compression. Of course there is a lot more to it but you get my point.

Business is the same. Timing, departmental processes, supply chain, procurement, front line service, sales, transaction and after sales. Like an engine the fuel of the business are the sales – input and output. Without fuel there is no energy. Without an engine there is no energy or movement. Employees are the engine of business.

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Now without oil to lubricate all those components the engine will grind to a halt. It seizes. It has fuel (sales / product /) but the engine isn’t working in harmony. You have guessed it. Think of Health and wellbeing being the oil of your business. Keeping employees engaged, moving, synergy, and business processes acting out in a smooth and controlled way.

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Away from this analogy the business case for an effective H&W Strategy is overwhelming. The NHS has been quite open that it has to get its own house in order in terms of addressing the major challenges of its own workforce in terms of absences. The NHS knows the direct correlation between a healthy force and the end product of quality patient care.

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Kevin Fenton, Public Health England National Director for Health and Wellbeing is absolute in the need for public health approaches to be embedded in workplaces. MSK and mental health topping the chart as major workforce issues.

 

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As the penny drops, H&W starts to influence other areas of the business, just like the oil in an engine circulating around the components keeping everything moving. Suddenly the Health and Safety (H&S) agenda is been contributed to by H&W. Encouraging employees to take breaks, giving opportunities for physical activity, creating a captive audience stimulates alertness and impacts on energy levels.

Concentration levels are improved, that lunch time walk could potentially help avoid the afternoon slump that may have resulted in a lack of concentration hence an accident operating a machine. All hypothetical. But scenarios that have historically played out. Suddenly H&W acts as a pro-active approach to H&S as well as opposed to stand alone reactive measures.

 

 

As the oil flows around the business it meets the HR Department. Engagement rates in its yearly programme of employee health initiatives contribute to the departments objectives. HR is now not seen as just time, motion, holidays and line management protocol but a diverse and energetic H&W programme has changed the perception of HR internally.

As H&W is the oil it gets to parts of the business other initiatives don’t. How? It’s approachable and fun. If it’s embraced at Director level it sucks in parts of the business other initiatives don’t. It brings external partners into the business that normal processes wouldn’t and allows the business brand to expand into industry circles it wouldn’t operate in during normal business operations. Contacts and networking = fuel (sales).

Then there is recognition. Pay and benefits, the Health and wellbeing Charter and of course Investors in people that H&W helps contribute to. Essentially it adds value across the business whilst making a meaningful impact on employees working lives and individual health outcomes.

Oh and let’s not forget the branding and marketing in a world of digital prowess and social media wonder. An engaged workforce is a happy workforce. May be a little cheesy, but when people feel their workplace offers something different they want to tell the world. It is in its most basic form the ultimate marketing machine. Its self-propelled and reaches audiences that would otherwise cost a huge amount in marketing expertise to reach.

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In one workplace we have desk to 5 k run groups. A year ago colleagues used to look a little perplexed coming out of the office to see the car park been used up as a warm up area. Now they don’t bat an eye lid. It’s a culture shift. The H&W programme doesn’t force anyone to get involved but presents an opportunity. And colleagues inspire colleagues. Word of mouth is gospel.

Facebook and twitter go wild as the company is portrayed to the social media world as a great place to work. In social circles it prompts the question from family and friends ‘what does your company do’? The brand gets exposure. It attracts talent. The business becomes a desirable place to work.

I have had people new to the business comment ‘I noticed the run group last night, how do I get involved, I love how you all do this’? Or ‘I love the vibe here and how at my induction we were presented with an over view of all the things we can get involved in’.

In my line of work I have run groups, walking / steps challenges, weekend activity pursuits (low level), pool bikes, yoga, nutrition and resilience training. The H&W programme has its own branding. T-shirts, website logo and merchandise which contribute to its communication efforts. Of course not all business can afford to resource such things, but a H&W programme does not need to cost a lot.

Then there is the ‘working together component’ – synergy. A simple lunch time walking group. But so much more than just the benefit of movement away from long periods sat down. In a big business floor 1 meets floor 2 and so on. As an indirect benefit of H&W comes new friendships and rapport between business colleagues.

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Oh, and may be a more obvious one Corporate Social Responsibility. Do not forget the content and individual stories generated from a successful H&W campaign which gives you a constant supply of PR and media friendly literature. Take your pick. Align H&W success with product launches, new services or to bolster your credibility in new areas of business. Even use it as a tool to negate negative media.

Embed yourself in your community where you are based and regionally be seen as the leader in your field – H&W helps achieve this. It is a talking point. Most important for those businesses operating in a predominately business to business environment with little front line customer / community involvement. If you product portfolio evolves into a more customer to customer focus H&W provides an existing platform for which to build n.

So as you can see H&W is far more than just an accessory to business, more a necessity. Of course there is a plethora of information online about ROI, Business case, Absenteeism and presenteeism reduction. I keep up to date with this but this article is more about the whole picture of Health and Wellbeing and its wider contribution to business.

Then there are the more obvious concerns affecting the Western World re diabetes type 2, obesity and CHD amongst others that are attributed to our sedentary lives. An ‘active’ workplace contributes to reducing these risks. H&W culture is ethical. Embedding a clear strategy, direction of travel and implementation will help toward achieving better health of people and ultimately business.

 

For support, strategy and delivery of Health and wellbeing and CSR for your business contact me.

 

Andrew Picken is a practicing Health and Wellbeing consultant for private sector business. With over 10 years in Public Health, change for life, the Sheffield wide initiative to become the most active City in the UK by 2020 and regional health programmes I bring credibility and a network of contacts to support H&W programmes in business or communities.

andrewpicken10@gmail.com

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