Improving the health of workers

15-04-2004

BBC News Online looks at how one company is helping some of the country's biggest employers to improve the health or their workforce.

Two years ago, managers at Standard Life Healthcare decided to team up with a team of health consultants to try to improve the health and general wellbeing of their staff.

Employees at the company's offices in Guildford and Stockport were given the opportunity to fill out an online questionnaire to find out just how healthy they were.

They were offered advice on nutrition, sleep, stress and physical activity.

The information they provided was fed into managers who decided to make improvements of their own.

A healthier menu was introduced in the firm's restaurant and staff were offered massages at work, the cost of which was subsidised by the company.

Impressive results

The results after a year were quite impressive. Employee absences fell by 30%, staff stress levels had dropped by 14% and productivity increased by 5%.

Healthier workforce
  • Absence rates fell by 30%
  • Productivity increased by 5%
  • Stress levels dropped by 14%
  • Smoking rates fell by 9%
  • Alcohol consumption went down 14%
    Source: Vielife & Standard Life Healthcare

The number of people who were eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables jumped by 60%; smoking rates dropped by 9% and alcohol consumption fell by 14%. "This is the best people initiative we ever implemented," says Mike Hall, chief executive of Standard Life Healthcare.

Vielife, the firm behind the programme, says it has achieved similar results in other companies.

Clive Pinder, its managing director, says improving the health of staff helps workers and employers.

"Poor health increases absence in the short term and the substantial costs of ill-health in the long term.

"Conversely, promoting health is proven to improve engagement today and optimise financial performance in the future."

The success of the scheme has prompted Standard Life Healthcare to offer the programme to some of its corporate customers.

"It's a win-win situation for employers," says Mike Hall.

"Active management of staff health and well-being can lead to an increase in company productivity and a reduction in illness-related absence, which costs British business billions each year."

BBC News

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