Creating a preventative workplace wellbeing strategy

Chris Metcalf
February 8, 2024
min read

In an era where long-term sickness rates have soared and lost workdays due to poor mental health are climbing steeply, creating an effective employee wellbeing strategy is an increasingly high priority topic for employers. As the old adage goes ‘Prevention is better than cure’. Whereby rather than waiting for health issues to manifest, employers who have adopted a preemptive and proactive strategy are witnessing a reduction in absenteeism rates, and improvements to their bottom line.

Increasingly, employers are directing their focus towards preventative services. Which, as it happens, is the space in which imatta sit. That means we’ve had a ton of hands-on experience from the organisations that we work with. Supporting them to craft an effective forward-thinking, proactive strategy that ingrains sustainable wellbeing as a fundamental value within their organisations.

We wanted to share some of these insights, to allow you to start shaping an effective and preventative workplace wellbeing strategy: 

Embrace Digital Solutions: Technology has moved on a lot in the digital healthcare space over the past 3 years. With many providers now seeing better patient outcomes than in person treatment and support sessions. By providing swift, online access to clinicians ranging from GPs and physiotherapists to mental health professionals and fitness consultants, employers can tackle major causes of absenteeism before they necessitate time off work. The ease of access to digital platforms better enable early intervention. Being more accessible (less time off needed for travelling to-and-from appointments) and mitigating the over-capacity and long-waitlists involved with public health providers like the NHS, means people are more likely to engage in health care. Which leads to improved outcomes for both employees and employers.

Tailor Solutions to Your Workforce: A crucial aspect of a preventative approach involves identifying the prevalent health and wellbeing challenges specifically within your workforce. Whether it's stress, sleep issues, financial worries, or exercise deficits, understanding employee needs is paramount so that you can create a support package that actually adds value to their lives. Employers can leverage anonymised surveys and should receive data analytics from the services they employ to pinpoint problem areas and introduce initiatives that foster healthy behaviours and lifestyles. You should be asking your health and wellbeing benefits providers for data on usage, and specifically areas they are seeing most interaction and usage. For example our employer dashboard serves anonymised usage data showing which content topics and live sessions are most popular, and your overall ‘wellness pulse’ scores - these insights should shape your offline strategy.

Prioritise Mental Health at the top table: Workplace conditions and culture significantly influence mental wellbeing, ultimately impacting job performance. Company leadership plays a really important part in implementing measures to alleviate anxiety and stress and foster a more productive and healthy workforce. More employees take action, and earlier, when a CEO or founder of the business is regularly speaking openly about mental health and encouraging their team to do so. 

Progressive organisations and leaders understand the impact sustained positive mental health has on business performance, and prioritise it accordingly. Having it as an agenda point in leadership meetings, discussing it in townhalls and team catch ups. And offering anonymous, and easily accessible mental health support encourages employees to seek assistance early, significantly increasing the likelihood of positive outcomes. 

Demonstrate Care and Value with a strong comms strategy: By fostering open communication and ensuring awareness of available services, employees are much more likely to access support when needed - creating a more engaged and productive workforce. You’d be surprised how often in opening discussions with HR teams and employees on the front line about the support they currently offer/receive, we hear responses like ‘Err…I think we have something, i’m not to sure to be honest’ or ‘Yer I think we’re with x, but I’ve don’t know how to use it!’. Give it the time it deserves. Ensure the services you’re using get a proper onboarding with your team, and are discussed regularly with your workforce. A robust comms strategy helps keep your employee benefits front of mind. 

We invested a lot into designing an employer ‘spread the word’ strategy to lift as much of the strain as possible when explaining and onboarding your teams. We also continue to manage the comms with your employees - essentially we’re an employee benefit that promotes itself. We learnt early on that it’s like anything, with preventative mental health support habitual action wins. Just like you wouldn’t go to the gym once and expect to be jacked, your mental health needs consistent consideration. Be sure to get engagement from your workforce through regular communication, advice and guidance that demonstrate clearly the benefits to themselves. 

The evolution of digital wellbeing solutions provides an opportunity to empower employees to manage their health more effectively. Employer-driven preventative services not only benefit the workforce's health and happiness but also yield tangible returns on investment through increased productivity and reductions in both absenteeism and presenteeism (as much as 5:1 according to recent reports from Deloitte).

We hope this has given you some food for thought, if you’d like an open and honest evaluation of your current wellbeing support we can help - drop us a message here to get a free and impartial call booked in.

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