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Employee health: why prevention is better than cure

It’s well documented – everywhere from National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to World Health Organisation (WHO) – that prevention is better than cure when it comes to health. And the good news is, this is something you can help your employees with. Encouraging your workforce to adopt a proactive approach to their health will help them spot potential health issues before they become a major issue.

This could help your employees feel healthier, reducing the chances of long term absenteeism through sickness. Your employees may also feel more valued, which can help improve engagement and productivity.

Find out how our business health and wellbeing services could support both your business and employees here.

Here are three prevention ideas you can implement at your company, to kick off the New Year:

1. Implement a January health assessment

One of the most comprehensive ways to promote prevention is to offer employee health assessments. It’s becoming an increasingly popular option with employers; according to a recent survey almost 6 in 10 large firms now offer workers a health assessment, up from 2 in 10 in 2013. And it’s with good reason. An onsite health assessment could help identify employee health risks and encourage them to take action to improve certain aspects of their health before any concerns become serious. Health assessments are also a great way to pick up many of the medical conditions which don’t necessarily have symptoms, such as high blood pressure or cholesterol.

At Benenden we offer a range of business health assessments designed to suit the individual needs of your company. Our team of medical experts can come to your office and conduct quick and easy health assessments for your employees. There are 5 levels of health assessments to choose from, and all employees will receive a detailed report immediately after the assessment, including insight into their overall health as well as a personalised lifestyle assessment to help them make the changes needed to lead a healthier lifestyle. 

You will also receive an anonymised overview of your employees results*, which can be used to help inform your health and wellbeing strategy as well as future employee benefits you may choose to offer. Find out more about our business health assessments.

2. Encourage exercise

The NHS states that adults should aim for 150 minutes of physical activity a week; yet despite that a 2017 NHS report looking into Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet found that 1 in 4 people manage just 30 minutes. Exercise is an excellent preventative measure to take, those who do exercises regularly have a lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer, depression and dementia. One of the most commonly cited barriers to exercise is a lack of time; this is where you can help.

There are plenty of ways you can encourage exercise within the workplace, for example you could start up a lunchtime yoga class or form a workplace running club. You can also help make exercise more accessible and affordable for your workforce through free, or reduced, gym membership or the cycle to work scheme. It’s crucial that all of your efforts must be underlined with the explicit message that taking time to exercise is important and acceptable. Read our article for further tips on encouraging employees to fit exercise into their daily working lives.

3. Help employees with healthy eating

We all know we’re supposed to eat healthy and get our five a day, but the NHS report mentioned above found that just 1 in 4 adults get their recommended amount of fruit and vegetables. Bursting with vitamins and minerals, fruit and vegetables can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers. On top of this, healthy eating can also improve work and productivity.

There are a number of ways you can help your employees to eat healthier:

1. swap the biscuit jar for a fruit bowl

2. encourage employees to eat a healthy breakfast to start their day right. for ideas on how to do this read our healthy breakfasts article

3. promote healthy eating apps. See our article for a list of healthy eating apps you could suggest

4. review the cafeteria menu or re-stock the vending machine to ensure there are plenty of healthier options available

Ultimately, it’s not up to you to prevent your employees’ health concerns, but you can certainly help. By giving them access to a personal health overview, time to exercise and access to healthy food, you can empower them to make healthy choices. The end result? A happier, healthier and more productive workforce with lower levels of absenteeism!

Have you implemented any initiatives to help employees improve their health and wellbeing, before health risks occur? Let us know on Twitter and LinkedIn using #healthyemployees

To discover how Benenden could support your business with our health and wellbeing services please call 0800 414 8179 or click here.

*Available for 50+ employees only, to ensure anonymity can be maintained.