Looking after your people has never been more important than in today’s tough and demanding results-orientated climate. The ‘corporate athlete’ is rapidly emerging as the individual who can stay the distance and constantly perform to a high level in a business sense, over a number of years.
Corporate performance is therefore an endurance event and not a sprint. Consequently, good health and wellbeing are essential to support the long-term demands of a 30 to 40-year professional career in the corporate setting. There is a growing field of evidence that reinforces the benefits of improving employee wellbeing and its positive impact on the bottom line. Several government reports have highlighted the cost-saving benefits of corporate wellness programmes on reducing absenteeism, retaining key staff and improving company morale.
The 2009 Boorman Report identified the cost of absenteeism through sickness to the National Health Service at 10.3 million lost working days annually, at a cost of £1.7 billion. Reducing these figures by one-third would result in an annual direct cost saving of £555 million. In contrast corporate Adidas, the international sport brand, reduced its average annual absenteeism rates from nearly seven days per individual to less than three days, which coincided with the growth of corporate wellness programmes within the company.
International research on corporate wellness from companies like Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, and many others have demonstrated that successful corporate wellness programmes result in approximately a £5 saving for every £1 invested in corporate wellness. The Black
report in 2009 highlighted the value of wellness interventions in the workplace together with a previous government White Paper on ‘Healthy Lives, Healthy People’, the latter emphasising the need for “individual responsibility and behaviourchange management for those wishing to make lifestyle changes that improve health”.
Football shows the way
In recent years, Everton FC have paved the way for corporate wellness initiatives in football clubs by testing the key cardiovascular risk and lifestyle numbers in all their staff throughout the club. It makes perfect sense to know your wellness numbers alongside your club’s performance numbers to optimize the potential for success.
Equally the League Managers Association have developed their successful ‘Fit To Manage’ programme, focusing on the cardiovascular health and lifestyles of the League managers. From the first 54 managers initially tested, more than 40 percent had key risk factors they needed to address. That programme has subsequently been very successful where many key health issues have been dealt with before
they could have become more serious, even life threatening in some instances.
Leading from the top
Corporate wellness has to be led from the top and the CEO of a company must be engaged for wellness programmes to succeed. That was powerfully illustrated by our ‘Project Life Study on CEO’s’, conducted in Toronto, Canada during the Nineties where 70 top leaders underwent a cardiovascular and lifestyle risk management programme. Over a twoyear period, heart disease risk was reduced by 30-40 per cent and nearly 60 per cent of the CEO’s on the programme started some form of wellness initiative in their companies.
In addition, it is also important to survey companies in terms of their current lifestyle behaviour before embarking on a corporate wellness programme. That approach is called the ‘Precede Proceed Model’ and reflects the need to engage everyone in the corporate setting, find out their needs and assess their readiness to change, before embarking upon a wellness programme.
The ever-increasing need for companies to engage in improved corporate and social responsibility is paving the way to move upstream and prevent potential ill health through corporate wellness programmes. Compare that with the traditional model of “down stream medicine”, where we wait for people to show signs and symptoms of illness and disease before intervening.
There are several companies that are leading the way through vigorously engaging in corporate wellness programmes - Adidas, Unilever, the League Managers Association and Causeway, a company specialising in software for the built environment, are key leaders in that field, truly reflecting that the time has come for the Corporate Wellbeing Concept.
Dr Dorian Dugmore, Perform’s Director of Corporate Wellbeing and Founder of the League Manager Health Screening Programme