This article is supplied by Simplyhealth.
- Health and wellbeing technology, such as online portals, can help staff to engage and manage their own health and wellbeing.
- A range of benefits and support services can be offered to staff via online portals.
- A health management tool that is free, easily accessible and user-friendly can reinvigorate all employees to stay healthy.
Encouraging staff to improve their health and wellbeing has long been one of the more challenging business problems for employers.
An increasing number of employers are realising that a healthy and engaged workforce boosts productivity. It is a simple enough concept, but one that can prove complex to put into practice.
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There has been a wealth of research on how to engage and motivate employees to be healthy. For example, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) research report, Managing for sustainable employee engagement: Developing a behavioural framework, published in December 2012, calls for management to lead by example in creating a health and wellbeing-focused workforce.
If leaders are openly engaged with their organisation’s health and wellbeing strategy, then employees will follow suit, says the CIPD.
With this in mind, it can pay dividends for employers to provide a platform that not only empowers staff, but also gives management the room to engage and support them.
Start by identifying a budget
Employers can start by focusing on two things: the health and wellbeing support their employees need and the level of budget they have to work with. These two points are vital, because they will inform what kind of health and wellbeing strategy an organisation eventually implements.
Once an employer has gained these insights, it can look at the options available.
Health and wellbeing technology is one option for organisations to consider. It makes sense for staff to manage their health via their smartphones and tablets, given employees’ increasing dependence on their mobile devices and the internet generally.
Online portals can help engage staff
Online health portals may also be a consideration for employers as a tool with which to engage their workforce in, and help them manage, their health and wellbeing.
A range of benefits and support services can be offered to staff via such portals to help them look after themselves, all through a single platform.
A portal can give staff easy access to a GP, perhaps allowing them to speak to the doctor over the phone or via the internet. This can help them to book an appointment at a time that suits them and avoid the usual waiting time. A portal could also give employees the option of having prescriptions delivered to their home or work address.
Ultimately, a portal encourages staff to be proactive about their health, whatever concern they may have, and more so when they can access it at any time, from anywhere and on any device.
Wellbeing is about more than physical health
But it is important for employers to remember that wellbeing is not just about physical health. Worries about finances, legal issues and domestic situations can also have a detrimental effect on employee wellbeing, which is why an online health portal should also offer advice and counselling helplines that provide support and guidance on a range of issues.
Of course, employees need support to use a worksite health portal; simply giving them access and leaving them to their own devices is not enough.
Constant communication is key
Constant communication about the portal and its myriad benefits is key.
Managers should lead by example by using the portal and sharing feedback with staff on how it helps them to manage their own health and wellbeing. Employees are more likely to take control of their own health if their senior managers visibly and authentically engage in, and manage, their own health and wellbeing.
But ultimately, a health management tool that is free, easily accessible and user-friendly can reinvigorate all employees to stay healthy, whatever their role, helping their employer to reduce sickness absence resulting from illness or stress and keep indirect costs down.
Chris Moore is head of major accounts at Simplyhealth