Lovewell’s logic: Should employers support staff in lifestyle choices?

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck

Last night I attended an event to promote the launch of Joe Wicks’ – the Body Coach’s – latest book. As you might expect, the majority of the people there were health and fitness converts, following his exercise and training plans, recipes and nutrition plans or both.

Throughout the course of the evening, the audience had the opportunity to participate in a Q&A session and share their stories about their health and fitness journeys. Listening to many of them speak about their motivations for improving their health and wellbeing, it became clear that no matter what their reasons, these had typically resulted in long-term lifestyle changes. In many cases, this was made easier where people felt supported in the health choices they had made.

Speaking to people afterwards, the role of the employer in providing this support came up in conversation. At this stage, I should point out that this was a consumer event that was in no way linked to the world of employee benefits. Anecdotally, from speaking to employers and various pieces of industry research, we know that staff do look to their employer for such support via health and wellbeing initiatives, so it is interesting to see how widely this is discussed away from the workplace.

But, following the government’s announcement of its plans to remove the tax and national insurance advantages of salary sacrifice, what impact will this have on the provision of some health-related benefits via the workplace? Will fewer employees have access to benefits such as health screens and gym membership as a result?

At the moment, it is still early days and it seems that there are currently more questions than answers.

But, as many look for support for improving their health and wellbeing at a time when the government is seemingly distancing itself from the population’s health and wellbeing in some respects, will this increase the number of people that instead expect support from their employer?

As figures in the public eye, such as Joe Wicks, help to raise awareness of and interest in personal health and fitness, this only looks set to grow. So are organisations ready to respond?

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
Tweet: @DebbieLovewell