How to maximise employee wellbeing

[The Times]: Focus on wellness

1 “Motivating employees to exercise and eat healthily often has a bigger impact than investing in private medical care,” Ben Wells, of Buck Consultants, an HR consultancy, believes. The number of companies with a “wellness” strategy almost doubled to 40 per cent in 2007-08, the consultancy has found. Unilever, the consumer products manufacturer, recently launched a drive to improve the health of employees, posting calorie counts next to meals, giving nutrition advice and offering free gym access. “Healthier employees are more engaged, committed and put in discretionary effort following our investment in them,” Alan Walters, HR director at Unilever, said.

Respond to workers’ needs

2 “Employers should be thinking about how employees and their families are affected by the recession,” Annette Cox, associate director at the Institute of Employment Studies, said. “About 20 per cent of people in our survey said that they don’t sleep because they are so worried about financial problems. What kind of person is going to be presenting themselves for work the next day?” Managers should know where to refer employees for help, such as occupational health or consumer credit counselling services, she said.