How to achieve buy in for your health

    • Senior managers may be attracted to the concept of promoting workplace wellbeing but are less keen when they realise the time and funding needed to implement and make the programmes successful.

      However, that is only because they are not seeing the true cost of the health risks accumulating in their supposedly ‘healthy’ teams.

      The disconnect between the theoretical appeal and intent of employers when it comes to workplace wellbeing was recently illustrated in research by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Despite 88% of employers interviewed by the DWP agreeing that they have a responsibility to encourage employees to be physically and mentally healthy, only 57% agreed that the financial benefits of employee health programmes outweighed the costs to implement.

      So how can HR professionals persuade senior managers that wellbeing is worth the investment?

      Securing backing and funding for your wellbeing initiatives

      Although buy-in is necessary from all internal stakeholders in the organisation, it is vital to convince senior managers and leaders firstly of the benefits of the programme as it is unlikely that any wellbeing programme will be successful without their backing. It is important to convince this group that the health actions being proposed will add value in terms of better attendance, employee engagement and retention, and ultimately productivity.

      To secure the backing and funding needed to implement wellbeing initiatives:

      • Prepare a robust business case using sickness absence and employee survey data. Use this data to demonstrate how funding a single initiative could outweigh the cost to the organisation.  At AXA PPP we have calculated that removing 1 risk from 1 individual will create, on average, more than £500 of added value through productivity.
      • Present your case using strategic language – for example, link wellbeing with business strategy and how it can underpin a corporate vision or mission statement. Explain how it is a vital part of mitigating business risks, including litigation, and include robust and compelling case studies from your sector.
      • Encourage employees who have made health changes to engage with senior managers on the benefits of workplace wellbeing.

      With funding and senior management buy-in secured, buy-in needs to also be at an employee level to ensure staff will engage with the proposed programmes – indifference and inertia can be major barriers to success.

      Designing programmes to appeal to different groups

      Programmes must be designed to appeal to different groups in the workforce and targeted to those who will benefit from them the most – for example, exercise-based initiatives may appeal to the younger employees while those who are overweight could be supported with weight management advice.

      Also, make sure initiatives are available to all staff no matter where and when they work, and try to brand wellbeing programmes as it can help build recognition and subsequent utilisation of the services. Training wellbeing health ‘champions’ to promote healthy eating, physical activity and mental wellbeing, can also help encourage buy-in across the organisation, especially in hard to reach areas such as shift workers.

      There are many ways to secure the support needed to set up and maintain a health and wellbeing initiative but key to the success of any programme is how it’s driven from the top. Senior executives not only need to act as good role models but they need to make it known across the organisation that fostering a healthier workforce is an important business objective and one that the organisation takes very seriously.

    • Dr Chris Tomkins

      About Dr Chris Tomkins

      Chris leads AXA PPP healthcare’s Proactive Health services, a ground-breaking approach to engaging populations and driving health behaviour change in a manner that is both inclusive and cost effective. His team consists of a unique combination of health experts, technologists and experienced e-commerce specialists.

      Chris himself combines both business experience with his doctorate in molecular biology, giving him an understanding of and passion for solutions against the diverse range of risks created by modern lifestyles, including challenges such as diabetes and hypertension.