Westfield Health: How to secure investment for employee health and wellbeing initiatives

This article is supplied by Westfield Health. 

Key points

Fiona Lowe
Westfield Health logo

The business benefits of providing staff with health and wellbeing support are many and varied. But persuading the decision-makers that it is a worthwhile investment can be challenging for many employers. The key is to create a powerful and convincing business case. 

A good place for HR and benefits professionals to start is to set the scene, explaining why decision-makers should invest in the health and wellbeing of their workforce. 

It sounds obvious, but the continued good health of a workforce has a considerably positive effect on the prosperity of a business. In our research, The employer view, published in February, 88% of the 230 decision-makers surveyed strongly believe that the wellbeing of their workforce is strategically important to their business.

The results also show that employers face a number of health and wellbeing challenges, with 37% highlighting back pain and musculoskeletal disorders as common problems among their staff, and 30% citing stress and mental ill-health as serious issues. 

Employers must share health agenda 

Interestingly, both this research and The employee view survey, published in February 2014, revealed that the majority (93% of decision-makers, 79% of employees) agree that responsibility for managing staff health and wellbeing should be shared between employer and employee.

A formal policy can help to explain the role that both employers and employees play in managing workplace health and wellbeing. While some organisations may have a formal strategy in place, with set procedures, processes and metrics, others may only respond on an ad-hoc basis, leaving staff unsure of their employer’s policy.

This might be due to a lack of time and resource, or even a lack of knowledge about how to set up a health and wellbeing strategy. Without a formal process in place, securing financial support for health and wellbeing provision is difficult.

Highlight business benefits

Employers should highlight the numerous benefits that a health and wellbeing strategy can bring to their business, including reduced absenteeism, greater productivity, and improved staff morale and retention.

Then, as with any other business practice, organisations must explain how their strategy helps to meet their overarching business objectives relating to cost, productivity, recruitment and retention and risk management. This will enable an employer to identify areas of concern to be addressed by health and wellbeing provision.

By providing evidence of these problems and the impact they have on business objectives, employers can create a highly persuasive strategy to win buy-in from their decision-makers.

Set tangible objectives 

Once a preferred health and wellbeing benefits package has been identified, employers should set tangible objectives, such as return on investment (ROI), and define the measurements for success.

According to our research, more than three-quarters of employers do not currently measure the ROI of their health and wellbeing initiatives.

Identify key stakeholders 

Of course, all this preparation should be done in the knowledge of who the main influencers are in an organisation, which may range from senior management, finance, procurement and employees to health and safety and even union representatives.

Different aspects of health and wellbeing provision, which may extend to the financial and emotional impact, will influence each stakeholder, but ultimately, an individual or a group of employees will have the final say on what will be implemented.

Once the buy-in of this stakeholder has been identified, they must be communicated with on an ongoing basis, to keep them informed of the strategy’s success and to convince them that they have made the right decision in supporting the initiative. By taking a long-term view of their health and wellbeing provision, employers will help to sustain investment in the future.

Fiona Lowe is head of HR at Westfield Health