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Neville Koopowitz: Staff wellbeing must be prioritised at board level

Published: 22/11/22

When it comes to supporting the health and wellbeing of staff, we are at an inflection point in the relationship between employer and employee, writes Vitality CEO Neville Koopowitz.

As a nation, we have never been more aware of the importance of taking steps to improve our health. Despite this, embedding healthy choices into our everyday lives is not easy. Even with the knowledge that a greater proportion of our lives is now spent in ill-health than 30 years ago1.

The state of our nation's health, and in turn our workforce, manifests itself in various ways, including how a business performs. Around 40% of UK productivity loss – equivalent to £39bn a year – is due to employees’ unhealthy lifestyle behaviours and poor mental wellbeing1.

This knowledge, alongside findings from research we did with the RSA (the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) last year, led us to call for health and wellbeing to be prioritised at board level.

"Much in the same way that organisations plan for pandemics, climate change and market fluctuations, we believe that businesses must consider the health and wellbeing of their people as a key risk given that they are the most vital asset to a business and its growth,”

- Neville Koopowitz, CEO, Vitality

Re-imagining work-life balance.

Much has changed over the last 12 months, including the way we work. Employers and employees alike have borne witness to the biggest reimagining of work-life behaviours in a generation, with hybrid working becoming the norm for most corporate businesses.

While cited by some as the holy grail of flexibility and the sure route to achieving a better work-life balance, our own experiences internally, as well as those of our corporate clients, find that the adoption of hybrid working – while positive in many ways – has not automatically solved the health and wellbeing challenge. Employees continue to have diverse health needs however and wherever they work.

It is for this reason that we have partnered with CBI Economics to survey senior business leaders for our latest Healthy Hybrid report. We wanted to understand not only how best to support health and wellbeing in a hybrid working world, but how to help employers put in place effective strategies to create healthier, more productive workforces.

We then combined this with research conducted among thousands of UK office workers to get a clear view of the impact hybrid working is having on employee health, as well as what is working for business and their staff – and what is not.

We also took the opportunity to explore what more businesses can – or should – be doing, how to get started and the business case for doing so. Read the research findings here.
mother and daughter working together

An inflection point

The results, set out in this report, show that we have reached an inflection point in the relationship between employee and employer. Individuals are expecting more than ever from their organisations with regards to their health and wellbeing.

More employers are facing up to this challenge, investing in workplace health and wellbeing as they recognise the strong links between good health, flexible working and improved productivity. The benefits to recruitment and retention in the current climate are clear for all to see. As is the business case, with one quarter of all business leaders listing poor mental health and wellbeing as an issue causing disruption to businesses currently.
Group working outdoors

Data-driven insights

There is no silver bullet though - a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach won’t make the significant impact that businesses are hoping to achieve, or that will move business metrics. The solution lies in better insight to understand an organisation’s unique employee-base better through data, and then responding appropriately. One in four businesses admit they do not measure employee health and wellbeing, which we believe is a missed opportunity. Businesses must move from policies that tick boxes to data-driven health and wellbeing programmes that work for all.

At Vitality, we believe that shared value exists when organisations create healthy working environments. Employers benefit from a more engaged and productive workforce that leads to better business performance. In turn, employees are physically and mentally healthier as a result.

Only by understanding and personalising health and wellbeing support can we deliver meaningful change and build a healthier workforce in the UK. As we approach the winter months, support for staff wellbeing is only going to become more needed. It must therefore be prioritised at board level and remain high on the business agenda.

people clapping

We teamed up with CBI Economics to survey C-suite execs on their experiences of hybrid working and combined their answers with additional insights from workers across the UK, to get the lowdown on health and wellbeing support in UK businesses and its impact on working behaviour. Read the key findings.

How can Vitality support?

Find out more about how Vitality can support the health and wellbeing of business of all sizes.

Where to next?

  • Winter is coming! Don't let staff wellbeing get frozen out

    Support for staff wellbeing is going to be more needed this winter - not less - writes Pippa Andrews, Director of Corporate Business for Vitality.

  • 10 things we learnt from the Vitality at Work away day at Champneys

    From sharing stories to keeping staff wellbeing at the top of the business agenda, these are some highlights from a recent day spent at a health spa in Tring.

  • Insights Hub

    Our Insights Hub brings you our range of adviser content - from video series to articles & blogs.

1 Maximising quality of life: A primer on healthspan and lifespan, Vitality Research Institute