UK employers’ wellness priorities are unique worldwide

Employers in the UK have a unique set of priorities for adopting workplace wellness strategies according to a survey of health promotion across 25 countries worldwide.

Reducing absence, improving productivity and improving employee engagement are the drivers for workplace wellness implementation in the UK, rather than a straightforward reduction of healthcare costs as in the US and elsewhere, according to the research by Buck Consultants.

Among UK respondents to the survey, 46 per cent report a moderate to high reduction in employee absence attributable to their strategy. Improved workforce morale and engagement scores higher, with 61 percent reporting a moderate to high impact in this area.

The fastest-growing components of global wellness initiatives in Europe and the UK are on-line healthy lifestyle programmes. Other rapidly growing programme elements are healthy food options, on-site healthy lifestyle classes, health risk appraisals and work/life balance support.

Buck Consultants predicts use of these programme components to grow dramatically over the next three years, in some cases, by more than 100 percent.

Incentive rewards, designed to improve employee participation and engagement in wellness programme activities are most popular in the USA, but are gaining some traction in all parts of the world. Rewards are being targeted on a variety of activities such as incentivising taking a health risk appraisal or biometric screening, or taking part in a workplace health challenge, such as walking or weight loss programmes.

Whilst workplace wellness strategies are most prevalent in North America, they are rapidly growing in popularity in the UK and elsewhere. 40 percent of those surveyed now offer a Workplace Wellness Strategy, double the figure when the same survey was carried out a year ago.

“In the current climate, we fully expect employers to increasingly recognise the impact that a Wellness Strategy can have on employee engagement and productivity, and that the tools to better measure return on investment will continue to evolve,” says Adrian Norris, head of Buck’s UK health consulting practice. “It reflects how wellness initiatives can address a variety of employers’ challenges around the world.”