Making staff well-being part of company culture

first_img Previous Article Next Article How Standard Life Healthcare (SLH) used an online portal to change itsemployees’ attitudes towards health and well-being in the workplaceAt Standard Life Healthcare (SLH), you are equally likely to hear body massindexes being compared during coffee breaks, as you are to hear what employeesdid at the weekend. This is not due to the private health insurance companysuddenly sending in the fitness police or the entire workforce signing up togym membership. It is the result of a far more gentle and common sense approachto health. The discussion is prompted by the company’s online portal, Vielife, whichprovides employees with a mechanism for assessing their health and well-beingrating, along with advice and support to help maintain or improve it. The datacollected by Vielife can then be aggregated and used by management to identifyareas for focus or any health-related issues or trends that may be affectingthe business (data cannot be traced back to individuals). Providing a benchmark The impetus for Vielife came as part of SLH’s drive to be a great place towork, which began in 1998, explains head of HR Vince Mewett. “Since then,staff turnover has dropped from 20 to 9 per cent and staff satisfaction hasincreased from 68 to 93 per cent, but we want to move things on even more,”says Mewett. “Vielife gives me a benchmark of the company’s health as seenthrough the eyes of the employees, which then shows me where we need to improvethings.” The portal was launched in early 2002 and the 800-strong workforce, spreadacross two sites at Guildford, Surrey, and Stockport, Cheshire, scored anoverall health and well-being score of 49 per cent, which while fairly good,still left room for improvement, especially on nutritional balance and physicalactivity. Following this, SLH put in measures, ranging from health fairs and seminarsoffering nutritional advice to free fruit days at the canteen – all supportedby internal marketing. “We also looked at the food on the canteen menu, and while we didn’tban chips completely, we did make sure there were healthy alternatives,”says Mewett. As well as nutritional measures, SLH provided subsidised on-site massages,costing employees only £5. “We wanted to bring in some stress managementinterventions,” says Mewett. Since the portal’s launch, SHL’s overall health and well-being rating hasgone up to 54 per cent and its nutritional balance score has risen by 35 percent. “The fruit only costs £300 and the massages £13,000 a year, but I stillneed to justify those costs, and VieLife gives me a tool for doing that,”says Mewett. Productivity has increased by 10 per cent and staff turnover is now down to6.5 per cent. While Mewett won’t be drawn on direct links between the systemand factors such as reduced absenteeism, he feels Vielife is a central part ofthe company’s overall people management strategy. “The improved ratingmeans I can say we have improved the overall health of the company. And ifstaff are healthier and more productive, they will provide a better service tothe customer.” Making the link Vielife’s roots go back 15 years, when Dr Francois Duforez (who still sitson the board) made the link between health and well-being and performance whenworking with jet pilots. He identified the four pillars of health andwell-being as sleep, stress, nutrition and fitness. Following extensive work and research in the area, he went on to work as apersonal physician in Formula One motor racing, and as a coach in the corporatesector. “In a world where companies are asking more of fewer people, absenceand stress is a real issue,” says Clive Pinder, managing director ofVielife. “Vielife helps you optimise individual performance through healthand well-being. If you could improve productivity by two hours a month, forinstance, it would give the UK 77 million extra working days a year.” Catalyst for change Mewett says that much of what is going on within SLH is common sense andgood HR, but Vielife provides a tool and a framework for making it all happen,as well as being a catalyst for staff to bring their own momentum to thestrategy. Senior systems analyst programmer, Catherine McLaren, says that havingVielife is a bit like having an online magazine you can go to for advice.”It prompts a lot of conversation. We talk about our scores, and I havehad a lot of tips and advice from it,” she says. “I drink a lot morewater at work now and try to do more exercise. When I do, I feel a lot morealert at work.” Mewett is pleased with the degree to which health and well-being has becomepart of the company culture. He says the icing on the cake literally came whenthe customary celebratory champagne and cream cake trolley did the rounds.”Somebody actually asked if they could have fruit instead of a cake,”he says. www.vielife.com Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Making staff well-being part of company cultureOn 4 Nov 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more