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Secure management buy-in for your health and wellbeing strategy

Most employees would like to see a health and wellbeing strategy at their place of work – according to a recent study, over 60% of workers believe their employer has a responsibility to do this.

But while employees are keen to see a health and wellbeing strategy in place, senior management can sometimes be reluctant to implement one

And this is problematic, because the success – or even the existence – of your health and wellbeing strategy depends upon securing senior management buy-in.

The decision-makers at the top of any organisation have the final say in approving budget, strategic direction and resource allocation. If you don’t secure their backing at a very early stage in the process, your health and wellbeing strategy simply won’t get off the ground.

Here are five tips to help you get management buy-in to support investment into a health and wellbeing strategy:

1. Use your own company specific data to develop a bespoke health and wellbeing strategy and to help secure buy-in from senior management

To work most effectively, your health and wellbeing strategy should be tailor-made for your business and the individuals within it. And the only way to build a specific strategy is to examine your company data and identify the needs of your workforce. There are lots of ways you can do this:

  • Look into the demographics of your workforce – it’s important to consider the age, gender and ethnicity of your workforce, as this has an impact on their health and wellbeing needs

  • Carry out health risk assessments – to find out more about the risks posed to your workforce, and how you can help reduce them

  • Review sickness records – to discover how many days have been lost to sickness, and the reasons for sickness, in your company – and the cost of this absence

  • Investigate any accident or injury data you have – how many claims have been made? Is any of this preventable?

  • Read through exit interviews from the last few years – are lots of employee leaving for the same reason? Is your company failing to provide the right work/life balance, or are there not enough benefits available?

  • Carry out an employee engagement survey – ask current employees their thoughts on your existing proposition and what they’d like to see introduced to improve your workplace

  • Examine usage data from any existing health and wellbeing benefits you offer – what’s popular? What aren’t people using?

Whilst the motivations of producing a health and wellbeing strategy aren’t routed solely in the bottom line, presenting tangible data to senior management is a really powerful way to prove the need for a health and wellbeing strategy. This is an exercise we undertook when it came to securing buy-in for our own internal health and wellbeing strategy at Benenden Health.

We reviewed sickness and absence records from the previous year. This, and the rest of our research, provided compelling justification for a health and wellbeing strategy.


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2. Link the benefits of your health and wellbeing strategy to the company’s wider objectives

It’s likely that senior management in your organisation are focused on achieving a number of objectives. It’s important, therefore, that you can show how your health and wellbeing strategy will support the wider company objectives, such as improved performance or increased levels of employee retention and engagement. After all, your people are the heart of your business – by investing in them, you’re investing in the success of your business.

Setting KPIs is a great way to prove the business results of your wellbeing strategy. So, if a company objective is to improve customer service, you might set a KPI to increase the number of employees in job fulfilment/personal growth training by 10%. Personal growth training will enable these employees to provide a better service to customers, since encouraging more loyalty from the workforce will make them more inclined to perform for the organisation.

This linked with preventative measures to mental and physical health can mean reduced employee absence, and better performance across the board. When employees don’t have to take sick leave, they’re better able to build relationships with their customers. This could indicate that your business would benefit from a health and wellbeing strategy that helps employees stay healthy, with preventative measures that aim to stop people reaching the point at which they need to take sick leave.

3. Demonstrate the return on investment of your health and wellbeing strategy to help you to get senior management buy-in

As senior management are responsible for the financial health of your organisation, presenting a budget is crucial to securing investment into a health and wellbeing strategy and associated initiatives.

The first step is proving that an investment in health and wellbeing is worthwhile. And there’s clear evidence this is the case – research by the British Heart Foundation suggests that investing in workplace health and wellbeing can see a return of between £2-£34 for every £1 invested.

Conversely, not having a budget for health and wellbeing can be very expensive. According to REBA, whilst annual spend on wellbeing strategies is higher for those with a health and wellbeing strategy (£51-£75 per employee compared to £1-£26 per employee for those without a strategy), spending is forecast to rise fastest among those without a strategy.

This is likely due to the hidden cost that arises when you don’t proactively invest in the wellbeing of your employees. You pay the price elsewhere – in the cost of recruiting, in sickness leave, and in attracting a poor reputation.  In this way, setting aside money for a health and wellbeing strategy means you don’t overspend or incur unexpected costs further down the line.

4. Show management that happy, healthy employees are more valuable to your business to help you to get buy-in

Happy employees are typically more productive, innovative and collaborative. And in simple terms, employees who are well report less absence. 

Latest figures identified in our health and wellbeing guide suggest that 131m working days are lost per annum due to sickness absence, with 4.4 days lost on average for every worker in the UK. This works out that, on average, absenteeism costs UK businesses £571.56 per employee. The cost of presenteeism, when someone is in work and unwell and not productive, is even more than the cost of absenteeism, at £605 per employee per year. In companies with health and wellbeing programmes, the number of expensive days lost to absenteeism is seriously reduced. 

At Benenden Health, the ambition behind our new health and wellbeing strategy, titled ‘Working Well, Living Better’, is to enable an environment where employees can be their best. We’re expecting to see improved engagement, wellness, leadership, reduced absence, and a healthier happier workforce as a result.

5. Showcase the recruitment and retainment benefits of a health and wellbeing strategy

Talent is the backbone of any organisation, and consequently will be a big concern for senior management. That’s why it’s important to show them how employee initiatives help to recruit and retain quality people. 89% of workers at companies that support well-being initiatives are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work. 

Plus, our Mental Health in the Workplace Report discovered that almost half (45.6%) of those surveyed would look for alternative employment if they felt their employer didn’t provide support in relation to mental health conditions. This raises to 50.5% if you look specifically at 18-34-year olds.

As part of our new strategy, we’ve focussed on providing a range of mental health initiatives to support the positive psychological wellbeing of our workforce. This includes mental health training for all people managers, encouraging colleagues to update their own wellness action plans, and carrying out workplace adjustments for colleagues suffering from mental health illness so that we can work together to manage their mental health so colleagues don’t need to take sickness leave.

Take a look at our health posters for more tips on creating a workplace that supports positive mental wellbeing, as well as financial and physical wellbeing.

In any organisation, senior management is motivated by one clear priority: to drive the company forward. If you can demonstrate how your health and wellbeing strategy will help the company progress, you’ll be able to win the support of your organisation’s decision makers.

If you’d like some more help to develop your own health and wellbeing strategy, take a look at our guide which will explain how to create a wellbeing strategy that your senior management can get behind.

Develop your own health and wellbeing strategy

Our 50+ page guide takes you through the five key stages to creating a health and wellbeing strategy at your company, now including a Benenden Health case study. The guide includes advice on:

  • Planning your approach
  • Getting management buy-in and securing budget
  • Developing your strategy
  • Launch your health and wellbeing strategy
  • Reviewing and refreshing your strategy

To access the full guide simply complete the form and download.



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