Raising Finance

How to propose funded wellbeing initiatives at work

6 min read

04 October 2018

Lobbying for company-funded health and wellbeing initiatives are becoming commonplace, here's how to do it.

Keeping employees happy and healthy is part of everyday office conversations. But when it comes to fronting up money to support wellbeing initiatives at work, are employers as keen to do so?

Implementing programmes that benefit the health, and productivity, of employees, takes time and money, and such activities often include the collaboration of colleagues beyond simply the HR, or office management team.

According to our friends at AXA PPP Healthcare, the best way to encourage proactive wellbeing initiatives is through a top-down implementation policy.

This starts with convincing senior management about the business pay-offs these programmes can produce.

– But remember, the below advice can be useful to CEOs and senior staff themselves, who may believe in health and wellbeing initiatives, but need to convince the rest of ‘the board’.

Employers don’t believe wellbeing pays-off

According to research conducted by the Department for Work and Pensions, whilst 88% of employers interviewed agreed that they have a responsibility to encourage employees to be physically and mentally healthy, only 57% believed that doing so produced any tangible financial pay-offs for the company.

How do you make wellbeing bankable for businesses? 

There are statistics to be had everywhere that links workplace wellbeing with employee productivity, so it’s in the interest of employers to accelerate productivity and performance by funding related initiatives.

So whether you’re a CEO or founder trying to convince the rest of your team or an over-worked employee, the first step is to make a business case for funding employee wellbeing initiatives and show that they produce marked results for company performance.

 – Start by framing the conversation around themes of value.

This value will come in terms of higher attendance rates, employee engagement, and retention of staff in the long-run.

The ultimate pay-offs for this being greater net productivity. State these points with conviction backed up with statistical and testimonial based evidence.

How to get management or your staff, to ‘buy-in’

Start by using sickness absence statistics and employee survey data. This data will come in useful as it will demonstrate how funding one pro-wellness initiative can outweigh net economic drains such as poor employee health and wellbeing.

” We have calculated that removing 1 risk from 1 individual will create, on average, more than £500 of added value through productivity.” – AXA PPP Healthcare

Illustrate your case in positive business terms, use the appropriate language that frames this as a business issue, not a ‘fluffy’ lifestyle one.

If you’re going to be going against cynics, make sure you frame the pitch in terms that relate to their interests and objectives, such as making the business productive and financially successful. 

At this point, you can get creative and associate the proposed initiative with the culture, or mission statement of the company. Tie it into a company slogan, for example.

A key part of creating a solid and convincing business case should also include mention of mitigating business risks.

Make clear that implementing productivity boosting wellbeing initiatives can avoid risks of litigation from overworked employees, bringing in business cases from other companies to support these claims is also good.

Bring in the physical evidence 

When making your wellbeing business case to employers, senior staff, or to your workforce, make sure to include the testimonies of staff within your organisation who have made health or lifestyle-related changes.

“Training wellbeing health ‘champions’ to promote healthy eating, physical activity and mental wellbeing, can encourage buy-in across the organisation.” 

It’s well known that humanising elements of business presentations are more engaging and memorable for audiences than simply providing data insights, so include the human element in your own wellbeing pitch.

Convince the working body

En-masse engagement from staff is key to implementing a successful and effective health and wellbeing programme.

After all, these are supposed to be the main beneficiaries of the programme. Make sure you keep employees in-the-loop and updated about the proposed initiative, and how it’s going to benefit them.

Key to this is the effective branding of the said initiative at ground level. Get creative, and align the programme branding with the wider cultural ethos of your organisation.

For example, try to appoint willing ambassadors within the workplace body to promote the initiative and support fellow colleagues who want to get involved.

Why employers should care

Whatever makes your staff happy should make you happy, in terms of continued loyal service, higher rates of attendance, higher recruitment interest, and a better brand reputation, what’s not to like?

In the UK, rates of absenteeism rising (staff who come into work but are not productive) have risen in recent years.

In response to this loss of time and money, employers should be listening to their staff and investing in health and wellbeing programmes that aim to make staff happier, healthier and therefore more productive when they are at work –  it’s worth a try, isn’t it?

Because things can only get better, and more productive, from here…