In week 12 of his 15 week blog Carl revisits the third of Barnett Waddingham’s 6 pillars of employee wellbeing; health.
If you can remember back to week 5 when I first talked about health you will recall that I scored a low 4 out of 10 on health in our survey. I explained that I smoked and that I was overweight, that I liked a beer or six and that I worked in an office and therefore spent most of time sitting down. These combined have led to me having a low score of 4 out of 10.
I also mentioned that I think that improving ones health is actually quite simple and easy: you just need to have the drive to do it. Doing this blog has been that drive for me - nothing would have annoyed me more than writing this now having gained a few pounds while contracting gout because of an over-consumption of alcohol. I have in fact lost half a stone in the past 7 weeks and cut back on the amount I drink (the two probably go hand in hand). I feel better but I still have a way to go – the key to me is to keep motivated: I have done this type of thing before and then reverted back to old habits.
So how do companies help their employees with their health? I think a lot is already done by way of gym memberships and access to fruit, but as previously mentioned in week 5, these tend to only help those who are already healthy and active. This is not always the case and some will be inspired, but I don’t believe it is the norm.
I think education is extremely important. Health assessments are a great way to help people understand their own health risks and, as the results are personal to the individual, are more likely to give someone that drive to improve their health. If I was informed that my lifestyle choices are likely to affect my life expectancy then I am more likely to make alterations than if I were to simply follow blanket advice that smoking is bad for your health and eating red meat can cause cancer.
I also think that competition is a great way to drive health improvements, especially among men (let’s face it, we’re more primitive than females). In a previous company we used to run what we called among ourselves the ‘fat boy challenge’. It was not company-sponsored as I don’t think that name would have had legs if it was, but I have never been more driven to lose weight than when I was in that competition with my colleagues. I ended up losing 2 stone in 2 months and all but cut out alcohol - and I can honestly say I never felt better. You see more and more of these type of competitive-based health initiatives these days through companies like Yomp, and I do think they have a place as part of an overall health strategy.
In terms of education around nutrition and exercise there are again a number of companies that specialise in this, such as EnergiseYou, and these types of seminar also have a place within a health strategy.
Obviously I don’t have all of the answers when it comes to health, if I did my body would probably be a temple – as it is it's more in ruins! However, a bit of common sense goes a long way when it comes to health and companies can help their employees by providing a little more support.
As always it important to first engage with your employees: is health a problem for them and do they want/need support?
Read Carl's first blog on health HERE