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How to develop an effective health and wellbeing strategy


Creating a health and wellbeing strategy is about showing your people that you really care, whilst reflecting your organisation’s values. It doesn’t need to be complex or painful to get right.

The fundamentals of success lie in a strategy that will inform which initiatives you should launch and when. Without the following, the best you will get out of a health and wellbeing drive are a few ad hoc initiatives that will deliver limited success and cost you money.

Have you:

  • Listened to your employees about what they want and need from a health and wellbeing strategy?

  • Understood where the gaps lie if you have initiatives in place?

  •  Identified the key areas that you want to focus on improving?

  • Tied this back to your business plan and company values?

Developing a cohesive employee health and wellbeing strategy can help a company be clear about: their objectives, where they may need to prioritise interventions and activity, and how effectiveness is measured.

It’s broken down into five stages, which are summarised below. Want to jump straight to the template? You can find it here.

Stage 1 – Planning for success


Before you dive right in, it’s important to think through and plan your approach. You should consider:

  • What are the main drivers for implementing a strategy?

  • What do your people want and need?

  • Who will be responsible for what?

  • How much resource do you have in terms of team members and budget?

  • What is the current offering?

  • Where are the gaps?

  • What are your competitors offering?

Stage 2 – Securing buy-in from the top


To make this work, you will need buy-in and budget sign-off from senior management. This is where it really pays to research the return from a health and wellbeing programme, delivered with the appropriate strategy.

You should present tangible data, with the necessary management tools in place to showcase results. The most ideal data to use is your own as it’s relevant to your organisation and can help to build the case to support investment. Some useful data sources you could use include:

  • Sickness records - To identify how much sickness is affecting your company and to identify the key causes of sickness

  • Employee demographics – To identify any key wellbeing needs in each demographic

  • Existing initiatives – Use data from existing initiatives (e.g. employee assistance programmes or EAPs) to understand how people are using the service

  • Exit surveys or employee engagement surveys – To identify themes or trends related to health and wellbeing, whether positive or negative

That said, external statistics can be powerful in quantifying the likely ROI from the investment required. Statistics such as those from Deloitte can help you make the case: for every £1 invested in employees, £5 is returned through reduced absenteeism, presenteeism and staff turnover.

Stage 3 – Laying out your strategy


Once you have buy-in you can develop your strategy:

  • Write out your vision and objectives as a starting point – Use your research to understand the key priorities your strategy can address

  • Agree the budget and team resource available - This will help inform which initiatives are right to launch with and which can be rolled out later. The absence of a budget doesn’t mean you can’t move forward: certain initiatives, such as the introduction of mental health first aiders and in-house pastoral care, don’t require a financial outlay

  • Determine your KPIs – Setting out your measurement and evaluation framework will serve two purposes: it will help you see if your strategy is on track to deliver your forecast and, it will facilitate further buy-in from senior management

  • Select the right initiatives - Relevance is key. Your initiatives must respond to the needs you have identified; they must be timely; and they must be appropriate for your resources and budget

  • Find partners - You may need to partner with external healthcare providers or even local charities to deliver some or all of your initiatives. Review local companies, as well as larger providers, to establish who is best placed to help you deliver your initiatives

  • Plan your launch (see Stage 4) – Even the best laid plans can flop if they aren’t launched in a targeted way that resonates with all of your team

Stage 4 – The launch


An appropriate launch is crucial to the long-term success of your health and wellbeing strategy. If your people buy into your plans now, they will more readily make use of your initiatives and provide the crucial feedback that you need to fine tune and develop your strategy (see Stage 5).

Here are some suggestions you could use to communicate the strategy at launch and in the future:

  • Meetings and huddles

  • One-to-ones

  • Intranet

  • Emailers

  • Newsletters

  • Signage and digital signage

  • Your health and wellbeing champions (if appointed)

Stage 5 – Evolving based on feedback


The best delivery of your health and wellbeing strategy will come from a long-term view: refining as you implement things will mean that you have a framework, which accounts for and responds to the feedback of the people it’s designed to help

To optimise your strategy, you should:

  • Evaluate how things are doing each quarter

  • Use employee engagement surveys to collate feedback

  • If your strategy includes health and wellbeing champions, use them as your eyes and ears to understand how well your initiatives are being received

Get started now

Getting started, or making improvements, doesn’t need to be daunting. Take a look at our health and wellbeing strategy template to kickstart the health and wellbeing of your organisation.

To discover how Benenden Health could support your business with our health and wellbeing services please call 0808 163 4886 or visit our Business Healthcare page.