Employee Benefits Awards 2010: Most effective healthcare and wellbeing strategy for organisations with more than 1,000 staff (Sponsored by Westfield Health)


Unilever UK and Ireland
Fit business

This entrant was rigorously scrutinised by the judges because of the advantages Unilever may be perceived to have as a company that produces healthy consumable goods. But because of the excellent way it went about aligning its internal brand with its external brand and the way it used clever initiatives that any employer could emulate, it was felt the company was a worthy winner of this category.

The firm’s mission is to “add vitality to life” and this is reflected internally by encouraging staff to make healthier lifestyle choices as a direct result of the workplace environment.

An area that many other employers could copy, regardless of their size, was the way Unilever dovetailed its own health and wellbeing programmes with government public health campaigns, such as the Change4life campaign which promotes healthy eating and increasing daily physical activity.

There is strong buy-in from the very top of the company, with Unilever’s chairman chairing the public health commission set up by the shadow health secretary in 2009.

Unilever has a strong focus on nutrition, exercise, heart health and mental resilience of staff, and so introduced a wide range of ideas, including guideline daily amounts to on-site restaurant menus. It also made voluntary health checks much easier to access, resulting in a 60% take-up.

Staff survey results show that 94% agreed with the statement: ‘In my workplace there are wellbeing programmes which encourage and support me to take care of my physical activity and guide me on healthy eating/nutrition’, while 64% agree that ‘I enjoy better health and wellbeing for being employed by Unilever, compared to another employer’.

Highly commended
Amey Wellbeing programme
A clear wellbeing strategy linked to rapid expansion of the business when staff needed to be emotionally resilient. A wellbeing manager was recruited, activities (including financial awareness) were run and 11 of the 13 new flexible benefits were linked to wellbeing. Strong set of quantifiable results including a saving of £750,000 through reduced absenteeism.

Runners up
Comet Group
Comet health plan (entered by Healthshield Friendly Society/Punter Southall Financial Management)
The retailer replaced the private medical insurance plan for its 2,000 senior staff with an employer-paid health cash plan for all 10,000 staff. It was particularly appropriate for workers who do a lot of lifting and carrying. Well promoted and scored well on satisfaction survey.

Humberside Police Risk assessment-based medical examinations
This is a proactive strategy based on regular health assessments for specially targeted police members. The aim is to help staff, to reduce time off, to reduce early retirements, and to spot early signs of stress or poor health.

Quintiles Healthy U healthy Q
Comprehensive programme with a clear agenda. Good use of financial incentives, such as shared costs, to promote take-up of classes such as weight management. Nutrition levels are printed on staff menus and staff encouraged to take health assessments. Results show good progress.

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Thales (entered by Accor Services)
Moved from being reactive to proactive on employee health. It set up a wellbeing committee and programme in 2007 with a major focus on stress. Benefits include childcare and cycle to work. Excellent use of auditable data to demonstrate return on investment. For every £1 invested, it got a return of £14.

See full list of winners and finalists for Employee Benefits Awards 2010