Putting a health and wellbeing strategy in place means doing more than just providing your employees with a suite of benefits to protect them. It is also more than finding the best prices for your health and wellbeing products. It is about achieving a healthier, more productive workforce that is engaged with the benefits being offered to them.

An effective health and wellbeing strategy is achieved by ‘layering’ the benefits that are provided to employees to maximise their health and productivity, whilst also minimising insurance costs and absence rates. There are three important layers to this strategy:

Education

Educating about health in the workplace is an important first step in maximising the health of your employees. Devise an engaging communication strategy ensures that employees not only understand how all of their employee wellbeing initiatives operate, but also how their diet, exercise regime and lifestyle can impact on their health.

Preventative measures

Preventative measures help form a ‘safety net’ against illness and absence. Implementing preventative health measures such as screening and occupational health coupled with effective absence management reporting allow businesses to identify and support employees before they become seriously ill.

Absence management technology can help HR departments proactively report on employees’ absences, including the length and reasons for absence, and which areas of the business are most affected. This enables employers to ensure employees most at risk of requiring longer-term absence are directed towards the right health benefits to help them get back to work more quickly.

Insurance products

Private health insurance forms the backbone for most companies’ health and wellbeing strategy, giving your employees and their families peace of mind that they will be protected if the worst comes to the worst.

Nevertheless, with premium costs continuing to increase, companies are increasingly looking to other products that can help control the cost of health insurance. For example, with the promotion of their Healthcare Cash Plan to employees, Danone UK were able to save an estimated £35,000 on their private medical insurance premium.

Measuring success and active management

The success of your health and wellbeing strategy can be measured in different ways - absence levels, insurance costs or productivity, for example.

Working with absenteeism as it happens and actively managing absence are central to success. It enables you to measure the effect of new health initiatives on absence levels, ensure your strategy is achieving its aims and allow you to make decisions regarding your health and wellbeing strategy going forward.

Communication and involvement

The type of benefits and tools you use should be different based upon your objectives. Achieving those objectives will be largely dependent on the extent to which attitudes to health and wellbeing are changed throughout the organisation through effective communication.

The best results from implementing a structured health and wellbeing strategy are often seen when a wide-scale launch is run across the company. This ensures each employee has the same level of information regarding any changes being made.

Offering health and wellbeing products as flexible benefits can empower employees to take control of their benefits and ensure they know what is being offered to them. For example, when Bibby Financial Services launched ‘YourRewards’ they had a 90% login rate to the portal, with an average 6.5 selections per employee. Their original portfolio of 11 flexible benefits included critical illness cover, dental insurance and health assessments, and further health benefits have since been added.

When designing a health and wellbeing strategy, the needs of the employees should be held foremost. Inviting employee feedback on current benefits and recommendations for future benefits is a vital way of ensuring that your employees are getting what they want. They will have important contributions to make regarding the shape, look and feel of any strategy that is implemented, and recommendations for future health benefits they would like to receive.

Having implemented your Company's health and wellbeing strategy, it is important to remember it is a long-term and organic entity. Any strategy needs to be continually reviewed and revitalised so it remains relevant. As the health of your workforce changes so should your strategy to ensure it continues to benefit both your employees and the company as a whole.