There is a tendency to regard wellbeing as something separate. Incorporating health into everyday life helps to keep it relevant
When it comes to practicing what you preach, sports apparel company Sweaty Betty has it covered. In 2013 the firm was crowned ‘Britain’s Most Active (midsized) company’ after offering its 300 boutique staff access to an on-site gym, and free running classes by professional fitness instructors.
In 2014 it won the Sunday Telegraph-sponsored award again, with initiatives including giving its 70 desk-bound HQ staff the chance to take twice weekly high-intensity interval training classes or Boxing Yoga and Body Blast classes at its on-site studio.
According to Jessica Howden – the company’s people and events coordinator – it’s through having employee advocates like herself and others (who help organise company away days, sports days, and even social media campaigns like Twitter page #HealthieSelfie), that ensure management pushbacks to health and wellbeing initiatives simply don’t happen.
In this case, responsibility for health at work isn’t even an HR or a line manager task – it’s moved past that. Everything that happens is thought up by staff, for staff. “What can be better than working out with friends who also happen to be your colleagues,” Howden says of the organisation that actively encourages staff to go for a ‘spin’ on a bike.
“Getting back to work after a pre-work or lunchtime session works wonders for productivity. And it really builds bonds.” She adds: “Actively encouraging the time for a break and not frowning upon it is something that everyone in the business does naturally.”
But with busy line managers already having plenty on their plate, is this yet another area they could perhaps not look at correctly?
In the realm of mental health, closeness to staff is actually recommended: “Mental health is so prevalent in the UK that no employers can be immune to it. We believe it’s managers who can be alert and attentive to this, to spot the signs of it and take steps that can actively address it,” says Dr Mark Winwood, director of psychological services, AXA PPP. He says training and support for line managers to recognise symptoms is key.
But whether it’s HR, line managers or employees themselves who are managing health, perhaps the best strategy employers can pursue is to provide autonomy. Here everyone has some sense of responsibility. And, sometimes this is better than giving a wellness project a fancy title.
To read more, download Reward and Medicash’s in-depth guide to workplace healthcare, by CLICKING HERE