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The Benefits of a Corporate Wellness Programme

How much is workplace sickness and absenteeism costing your business?

There is no disputing the fact that sickness absence and presenteeism has a huge negative impact on the performance of UK industry as a whole, as well as the performance of individual businesses, small and large.

According to the Department of Works & Pensions :

  • Approximately 130 million days are lost due to sickness absence and poor health every year in the United Kingdom

  • On average 1 million employees have been on sick leave for a month or more each year between October 2010 and September 2013

  • Employers face a yearly bill of around £9 billion for sick pay and associated costs

  • Around 300,000 people a year fall out of work and into the welfare system because of health-related issues

  • Sickness and absenteeism costs the national economy £100 billion a year

The people who make up the workforce are the biggest asset in any company. A healthy workforce and good attendance rates are vital in order for any business to maintain their position in competitive marketplaces. If staff members are absent this can affect the business in different ways:

  • Productivity levels can fall

  • Company reputation can be affected

  • Financial costs will increase

  • Staff morale can fall as those that are working are having to work harder to cover for the staff that are absent

Genuine sickness of course can’t be helped but poor health and absence can be reduced by improving the health and wellbeing of the workforce. On average UK workers spend 1/3 of their adult life at work, so it makes sense that this would be an ideal place to encourage employees to take measures to improve their health.

Strong evidence in recent years has shown that having a corporate wellness programme can improve the health & well-being of employees. This can reduce both presenteeism and absenteeism, improve staff morale and staff retention, increase productivity and have a positive impact on financial costs.

To gain a better understanding of how a wellness scheme can help, it would be helpful to understand how many Western diseases are caused by poor lifestyle choices.

The biggest causes of illness and death in the UK

According to the NHS thousands of people in England could avoid developing diseases and prevent an early death by changing their diet and lifestyle. The 5 most common preventable illnesses are:

  • Cancer

  • Heart disease

  • Stroke

  • Lung disease

  • Liver disease

The Global Burden of Disease 2012 report identifies the main risk factors contributing to disease, reduced quality of life and early death in the UK. The top five comprise:

  • Smoking tobacco

  • High blood pressure

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Poor diet

  • Lack of physical activity

  • Excessive alcohol consumption


It is a well-known fact that smoking causes almost all lung cancers. It is the biggest preventable cause of death in England, resulting in nearly 80,000 premature deaths each year.

High Blood Pressure

Almost 30% of adults in England have high blood pressure, of which over 5 million are undiagnosed. High blood pressure can lead to cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attacks. Causes of high blood pressure include:

  • Smoking

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Lack of physical activity

  • Too much salt in the diet

  • Too much alcohol consumption (more than 1 to 2 drinks per day)

  • Stress


Sixty two percent of adults and 28% of children aged 2-15 are either overweight or obese (Health Survey for England, 2012). Being overweight or obese means people are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, liver disease and some cancers.

High Cholesterol

According to cholesterol charity Heart UK six out of every 10 people in Britain have raised or abnormal levels of cholesterol in their blood but many don’t realise it as there are no outward signs. High cholesterol can lead to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease such as coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.

Lack of physical exercise

According to the World Health Organisation physical exercise is a major factor in the prevention of 20 chronic illnesses. Lack of exercise has shown to be the cause of around 17% premature deaths including heart attack.


It is reported that over 60 diseases or conditions can be caused by drinking too much alcohol. Harmful drinking in excess has been shown to increase the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, various cancers and liver disease.

This hopefully shows how many of diseases can be brought on by poor diet and lifestyle choices. The good news is that many of them can be prevented by eating a healthy diet, not smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, managing stress levels, taking regular exercise etc. These positive behaviours can be influenced by providing people with regular support, advice and guidance.

The benefits of having a corporate wellness programme

Various studies have shown that introducing a CWP can help businesses save money. It has been shown that for every £1 spent an organisation can expect to recover between £2 and £34. These are some of the ways that it can benefit companies:

What would a CWP include?

Corporate wellness programmes can include many different elements, and organisations can choose to focus on the issues that are most relevant to them and their workforce.

The overall aim is to engage, encourage and educate employees on the benefits and need to follow a healthy lifestyle, to provide employees with the resources to partake in the programme and to support this behaviour change.

A CWP may include one or all of the following:

  • Screening for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and introduce a chronic disease management service

  • Educate employees on how lifestyle choices can affect their health and well-being and what they can do to improve their health

  • Advise employees on how they can follow a healthy diet to ensure that their body is receiving the nutrition that it needs

  • Provide support to staff who want to reduce or give up the use of cigarettes, alcohol and/or drugs

  • Offer weight management classes for those who want to reduce their weight

  • Introduce relaxation sessions into the workplace e.g. meditation/mindfulness and provide employees with advice on effective ways that they can manage their stress levels

  • Provide complementary therapy sessions in the workplace e.g. massage, reflexology etc. These treatments will not only help with stress levels but also musco-skeletal issues such as back pain.

  • Introduce exercise classes into the workplace and provide employees with advice on the importance of taking part in physical activities and other ideas that will help them to embark on an exercise programme

  • Encourage and advise catering to regularly provide healthy food options not only in the restaurant but in the vending machines

  • Allow employees to participate in, and consult with workplace health initiatives

  • Introduce company policies that promote healthy behaviours

How I can help

I can develop a bespoke health promotion scheme that is aligned with the requirements of your business and designed to tackle the specific absentee problems you may have.

Using my professional experience in reducing absenteeism in the workplace and my understanding of what works to improve the health of employees, I can work with you to introduce the services you require. Ways in which I can help include:

  • Develop policies, strategies and projects for promoting health in the workplace

  • Provide specialist advice, resources and support to help improve the health and well-being of employees

  • Facilitate and support the delivery of health promoting activities e.g. healthy eating sessions, exercise classes, relaxation groups etc.

  • Develop and deliver training sessions and workshops on areas of health promotion

  • Write and produce health promotion leaflets, posters, videos, blogs, emails and brochures as required

Myself and my team of therapists can provide you with everything you need for a successful corporate wellness programme. Check out my corporate wellness page where you can download my brochure and find out more about how a CWP can help your business.


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