Staff wellness programmes must target mental ill health and obesity

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Stressed and overweight staffEmployers see mental health, obesity and high blood pressure as the areas most likely to impact on their employees’ wellbeing over the next few years. This is according to new research by AXA PPP healthcare, which found that three quarters of decision makers (75 per cent) agreed that employers should proactively support their employees to manage their health and wellbeing and why 77 per cent of employers said their company currently has a health and wellbeing strategy in place. The decision makers polled by the healthcare company are concerned that mental health (51 per cent), obesity/high body mass index (44 per cent) and high blood pressure (30 per cent) will be the biggest challenges to employee health over the next five years with the key to better health in the workplace in that period being improved ease of access (46 per cent) and increased availability (46 per cent) of preventive health services for employees.

Chris Horlick, Distribution Director for AXA PPP healthcare, commented: “It’s encouraging to see so many businesses acknowledging they have a degree of responsibility for employee health and wellbeing at work and, as a result, implementing strategies to support this.

“However, businesses, and arguably the workplace health services industry as a whole, can struggle to define what holistic health and wellbeing strategies should look like. This can mean that in practice they fail to include measurable objectives, thereby preventing meaningful evaluation of their impact.”

“To provide a more robust approach to management of workplace health and wellbeing, AXA PPP healthcare is introducing a flexible proposition to guide and enable medium and larger sized businesses to define their health and wellbeing strategies in terms of specific objectives and how they are going to measure whether they’ve achieved them.

“This higher level of definition will help businesses to develop wellbeing programmes that incorporate our innovative technology to help initiate and sustain healthy behaviours and drive productivity.”

The research highlighted that employers who don’t use a healthcare provider to support their health and wellbeing strategies identified significant challenges to achieving the goals they set out in their strategies.

Lack of employee engagement (40 per cent), inability to evaluate the impact of the strategy (32 per cent), inadequate budget (26 per cent) and lack of resource to deliver the health and wellbeing strategy (21 per cent) were seen as the major challenges.

Chris Horlick continued: “There is growing acknowledgment by employers and policymakers of the importance of preventive health services within a holistic approach to employee health and wellbeing.”