The smartphone may have created an ‘always on’ culture, but also represents a solution to many wellbeing issues, as Brian Hall explains


How can HR professionals be more proactive in their approach to employee wellbeing?

We’re living in an ever-evolving era and trends in health and wellbeing are constantly changing. In my opinion, it is becoming evident that the most effective wellbeing strategies are based on a proactive approach which prioritises prevention and the mitigation of risk with an emphasis on building resilience among employees.

‘Prevention is better than cure’ resonates as we look at ways to prevent long-term absence. In our experience, only half of employees return to work after a three-month absence, so employers must help staff to identify warning signs around their own and the team’s wellbeing before it is too late – not least when it comes to mental health issues.

HR tools such as Employee Assistance Programmes are an integral part of a proactive approach. The BHSF EAP, for example, has been modelled around the need to build resilience. A 24-hour helpline offers confidential access to a telephone counselling service 365 days a year, providing support on a host of mental health issues and emotional problems such as stress, debt and anxiety.

Why should HR professionals embrace technology now?

It is reported that nearly every part of HR, from recruitment to performance management, is being transformed by rapid changes in HR technology and companies must embrace this shift if they are to remain competitive.

Modernisation in HR requires a much deeper understanding of people and this includes an awareness of how people interact with technology. HR technologies are now offering consumer-like experiences that help empower both managers and employees and an increasing number of businesses are seeing the benefits of using technology to help engage with their workforce.

In a world where nothing stays the same for long, advancements in technology can help encourage employees to look after their health. According to the Department for Work & Pensions, more than 130 million days are lost to sickness absence every year and working-age ill health costs the economy £100bn a year. Undoubtedly there’s never been a better time for employers to get smart, and to embrace technology as part of a proactive health and wellbeing strategy focused on building a resilient workforce.

What role can technology play in building a more resilient workforce?

There is no denying the impact smartphones have had on the speed and efficiency of everyday tasks, and we have seen the rise of health and fitness apps as a gateway to information and services. We identified the opportunity to open up access to employee benefits in the same way, putting vital services, information and advice at our customers’ fingertips with the aim of boosting workplace wellbeing.

BHSF Connect, a healthcare and benefits web app, allows employees to speedily access health and wellbeing services 24/7, without having to remember log-in details. The app wraps wellbeing benefits such as a GP helpline, EAP and fitness support around a lifestyle discounts platform – featuring money-saving offers from hundreds of well-known brands.

With the inclusion of a GP helpline and online doctor service, the app provides access to a qualified GP over the phone or even via Skype, which has the potential to be a game changer in the drive to reduce staff absence. Users can set up a one-to-one conversation with a GP or lawyer, or they can access information about local medical services, while discounted gym memberships also help to motivate people to stay fit.

Using smartphones and other forms of technology to support employees at any point of need may just be the solution to combat the ‘always on’ culture. Putting health and wellbeing services directly into the hands of employees will empower and improve morale, which in turn will help to build a productive and resilient workforce.

1. HR Technology for 2016: 10 Big Disruptions on the Horizon, Deloitte

2. Department for Work & Pensions, Press Release: ‘A million workers off sick for more than a month’ (10 February 2014)

Further Information: Rachael Chew or Emily Cosgrove, WPR , 0121 456 3004 /

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