Employee Benefits Awards 2011: Most effective healthcare and wellbeing strategy for organisations with more than 1,000 staff

EBAwardsWINNER

American Express Services Europe, Healthy Living
Strategy and Programme

This entrant won this category in recognition of the work it has delivered to employees in promoting health and wellbeing as a global strategy.

American Express began implementing its Europe, Middle East and Asia (EMEA) Healthy Living Strategy and Programme in February 2010 and has been rolling it out to the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands and wider EMEA. The global wellness programme was launched to help employees change their view of health benefits and adopt new,healthier behaviours that benefit themselves, their families and American Express.

The firm developed global metrics, common health themes, hired staff with wellness experience and crafted global healthy living objectives that would encourage individuals to own their own health, create a culture of wellness, build employee advocacy, and reduce healthcare costs.

It adopted a regional strategy in EMEA to tailor the guidance to each region. It recognised that each country and region has different definitions of what health and wellbeing means to them, and so developed a consistent, evidence-based approach to cultural needs and population health risks. This began with a wellness audit of existing healthcare benefits.

The firm appointed a healthy living director to each market to provide governance, guidance, support and advice to achieve alignment to its global wellness objectives. It has saved $150,000 (£90,000) in UK consulting costs by bringing talent in-house to drive its wellness agenda. Reviewing its healthcare provision, it realised switching to a global employee assistance programme provider had saved $73,000 a year. Re-engineering its fitness provision in the UK saved $34,000 a year. It has reinvested national insurance savings from introducing its flexible benefits platform to help fund its health initiatives.

The judges praised American Express’s work in delivering a global strategy on a local basis, which can be hard to achieve. They also commended it on the robust analysis of the wellness audit at the outset of the programme.

RUNNERS UP

BGL Group, My Wellbeing
This strategy was launched in March 2010 to bring together the insurance firm’s range of health perks and introduce new initiatives. It aimed to get staff to take responsibility for their own wellbeing, while supporting them with resources such as osteopathy and remedial sports massages during work.

East Lothian Council, Fit for Life
With a workforce that includes road workers, gravediggers, lawyers and teachers, this strategy enables staff to request health promotion activities. It is managed by a team of non-managerial staff who dedicate their working time to activities such as an employee choir, men’s health week and free blood pressure, cholesterol and weight checks.

Linklaters, Health and Wellbeing
The law firm’s programme includes education and awareness initiatives to help managers identify and intervene when an employee shows signs of strain. It also published a stress management policy and ran stress management seminars.

Quintiles, Healthy U Healthy Q
The programme is led by Quintiles chief executive officer Dennis Gillings. Key components are a reimbursement scheme to encourage staff to be physically active, reimbursement towards the costs of weight management classes and fitness clubs, and healthy snacks and drinks in vending machines.

Telegraph Media Group, Telegraph Media Group Health and Wellbeing Strategy entered by PMI Health Group
This strategy offers staff private medical insurance, healthcare advice and claims management service, plus an on-site gym and ‘know your numbers’ sessions twice a year.

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Read more about the Award winners