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Vitality research shows increased productivity is the main motivation for health and wellbeing policies at work 

27 July 2022
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  • Research from Vitality with CBI Economics reveals seven in 10 (69%) business leaders cite increased productivity as the main motivation for introducing health and wellbeing policies
  • Majority of firms (65%) believe that hybrid working has made a difference to employee health and wellbeing, yet a third (32%) have found the process of introducing support in this environment to be complex
  • Additional research with 2,005 UK office workers indicates employees are reassessing their relationship with work, with more than four in five (82%) requesting a greater level of corporate welfare
  • The UK’s largest workplace wellbeing survey – Britain's Healthiest Workplace – led by Vitality provides businesses with the means to develop effective strategies to suit the specific needs of its workforce

One year on from the Government lifting ‘work from home’ guidance, health insurer Vitality has released new research in partnership with CBI Economics, revealing that Britain’s bosses believe the robust mental and physical health of their employees is key to rising productivity levels – and, ultimately, profitability.

The research, which was conducted with 352 C-Suite executives, shows that seven in 10 (69%) cite productivity levels as a motivating factor to introducing enhanced health and wellbeing policies, with staff recruitment and attrition in second place (52%). But while executives are building a business case around employee welfare and understand the benefit of a hybrid environment, more than half (59%) are finding tailoring support to meet differing needs challenging; a third (32%) even find it ‘complicated’ to introduce health and wellbeing support for a hybrid workforce.

The research reveals that firms lack the required time and resource, with over a third (36%) of business leaders citing this as a barrier to supporting employee health and wellbeing. A further 31% also lack expertise to introduce or evolve health and wellbeing policies, suggesting that business leaders still require guidance on this a year on from hybrid working coming into effect.

Additional research among 2,005 UK office workers, commissioned by Vitality and conducted by Censuswide over the same time-period, found the contract between employer and employee has fundamentally shifted. Eight in 10 employees (82%) believe their employer has a greater responsibility to offer support and more than two in five (44%) want their bosses to step up and do more to meet their health and wellbeing needs.

When looking at which health and wellbeing support is best, more than two thirds (66%) now consider flexible working to be the top health and wellbeing benefit an employer could offer. Over a third (37%) also cite access to private healthcare as being an appealing benefit post-pandemic. Despite this, employees are divided on which environment best suits their needs, with 46% believing hybrid working to be best for mental health, compared to 26% for remote working and 27% for office working – all of which, may be why businesses are finding it difficult to tailor their support accordingly.

Neville Koopowitz, CEO of Vitality UK said: “One year on from when many businesses made hybrid working a reality for their teams, UK bosses are clearly recognising the business case that having a healthy workforce brings. However, they are grappling with how to do this in a hybrid world, when we are also seeing increasing employee expectations and demand for more tailored and personalised health and wellbeing support – regardless of their location or working environment.

“What is clear is that there is no magic solution, no one size fits all approach. It requires the right technology and data to understand the make-up of your business and the individuals within it, so that you can formulate the optimal employee engagement strategy. It also needs to be prioritised at the very top of a business to foster a deep-rooted commitment to health and wellbeing at all levels. This is both a challenge and opportunity for business leaders. Get it right – and businesses will unlock greater productivity and retention.  

“This approach is firmly built on our shared value philosophy; a way of working that delivers for people, society and for the economy.”

Jordan Cummins, CBI Health Programme Director, said: “For many, the world of work looks markedly different in the wake of the pandemic, with firms and employees working together to hone their own hybrid futures. Yet flexible working is just one facet of a growing business focus on wellbeing, with employee health increasingly now regarded as a sensible investment rather than a cost to be managed.

“With employee expectations undergoing a similarly seismic shift, firms which fail to evolve their health provision risk being left behind by more proactive competitors. There are big prizes on offer for companies which develop the right package for their workers. It can be easier to recruit and retain staff, job satisfaction rises while sickness absences decrease – and there are productivity gains too. This makes good health both a critical pillar of business success and a key driver of economic growth and societal prosperity.”

For the last decade, Vitality has been supporting businesses to understand how the health and wellbeing of their employees is affecting productivity of their business through Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, the UK’s largest workplace wellbeing survey. This data-driven insight provides unique benchmarking on effective hybrid working and employee engagement, as well as the link between improved employee health and business success. This is regularly used by business leaders to develop effective and targeted strategies to suit specific needs of a business and its workforce.

Vitality provides support to businesses, developing strategies that enable employees to make meaningful and long-term behaviour change, through the Vitality Programme; a science-based approach that incentivises and rewards people to take steps to be healthier.  Employees engaged with the Vitality Programme report 28% less sickness episodes compared to unengaged employees[1]

In helping businesses to create ‘Healthy Hybrid’ working environments, Vitality identifies three areas of focus for CEOs and their leadership teams:

Establishing a ‘Healthy Hybrid’ culture with engagement from the top:

  • Put health and wellbeing onto your company risk register
  • Prioritise and put health and wellbeing on the board agenda
  • Senior leaders to practice, reinforce, and normalise healthy behaviours, both in the office and at home (hybrid)
  • Establish a benchmark and understanding of the health and wellbeing of your organisation, through data and employee feedback, updating it at least annually

Drive ‘Healthy Hybrid’ behaviour change through practical interventions:

  • Use data and information on your employees and teams to target health and wellbeing interventions – ‘one size fits all’ does not work
  • Consider how you have adapted health and wellbeing programmes since the introduction of hybrid working and how it may be working practically
  • Promote inclusive productivity gains by assessing performance based on outcomes, rather than hours or traditional work patterns
  • Reaffirm ‘right to disconnect’ policies and approaches, especially for the time when people who are working hybrid from home, protecting them from burnout
  • Ensure health and wellbeing policies are inclusive across all work environments and focus on workers rather than workplaces.

Sustaining ‘Healthy Hybrid’ values requires consistent reporting and accountability:

  • Effective and consistent wellbeing monitoring
  • Identify the best metrics for key performance outcomes, like productivity, and assess the relationship between those outcomes and employee metrics like engagement and wellbeing.
  • Clarify who is accountable for new health and wellbeing mandates and reflect this in management training
  • React quickly - we’re entering a different period in employer-employee relations, but one that will likely be defined by flexibility and a locus of responsibility that changes depending on the issue. Leaders should therefore monitor the metrics identified above, track progress with business strategy and employee sentiment, and be ready to shift course if necessary.

Notes to editors
[1] Data is - Vitality People Study, Britain’s Healthiest Workplace and Vitality data (2018).

Research methodologies

Vitality and Censuswide polling of 2,005 UK office workers

Vitality and CBI Economics survey of 352 c-suite executives

The bespoke survey, in the field in May 2022, was designed by both CBI Economics and Vitality and garnered responses from 352 senior representatives of businesses across the UK.

CBI Economics sent the survey to a panel comprising both CBI members and non-members.

Overall, roughly 78% of firms surveyed had fewer than 250 employees, with those in this category labelled SMEs. In the general UK business population, this same proportion is roughly 99%. 22% therefore had between 250 and 20,000 employees and are described as large companies in the report.

The largest proportion of firms came from the service sector (65%), with the most prominent sub-sectors being other services activities (15%), professional, scientific and technical activities (12%), financial and insurance activities (11%) and wholesale and retail (8%). The second largest was manufacturing, with 30% of respondents coming from this sector.


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