Importance of workplace healthcare

25 June 2018

This article was featured in the July - August 2018 issue of the magazine.

Elaine Gibson MSc, ChFCIPPdip, MCMI, FHEA, CIPP education director, explores how employers can support the wellbeing of their workforce

Recent Health and Safety Executive statistics show that 1.3 million workers suffer from work-related ill health; and statistics from the Office of National Statistics show that an estimated 137.3 million working days were lost due to sickness or injury in the UK in 2016, equivalent to 4.3 days per worker. A trend – reported as increasing by findings of the Health and wellbeing at work survey ( – is ‘presenteeism’, where due to pressure of work or a sense of job insecurity employees feel the need to be at work longer than required or to attend despite being unwell. Together, these statistics and trends send a warning; and no organisation wishes to be impacted by a high level of sickness absence. 

Your workforce is your biggest asset so why wouldn’t you care about their health and wellbeing? I believe that providing a healthcare benefit in isolation is not enough to support the workforce as employers’ duty of care encompasses more than healthcare.

Senior management have their eye on business performance and there is a balance to be struck between being a caring employer and getting the job done; however, investing in workplace healthcare can pay dividends. The Institute is no exception; our people, our human capital, drive our small perfectly formed machine and we want to keep it that way.

Each CIPP team member plays a key role in ensuring we continue to provide professional membership, educational support and guidance for payroll, pension and reward professionals. So, it is vital we offer employees the best possible support. 

You may know Maslow’s theory relating to hierarchy of needs, which originally comprised: self-actualisation (achievement of potential); esteem (dignity, prestige); belonging (relationships, being part of a group); safety (security, feeling safe); physiological (food, warmth, water). Over time, the following needs have been added: cognitive (knowledge, curiosity, meaning); aesthetic (appearance); transcendence (faith, service to others). Maslow’s theory demonstrates the need to apply a holistic approach to the workforce health and wellbeing.

Human beings not only require tangible benefits (e.g. healthcare or a car) but also intangible benefits (e.g. coaching or financial assistance). In recognising the importance of a holistic approach, the CIPP offers an array of benefits. 

So, what benefits could you consider as an employer? It is important to offer a selection so each individual has a choice relating to importance and mix of the above needs. Here are examples you may wish to consider.

Tangible benefits, such as:

  • Employer sponsored education and training – to support both personal and professional development.

  • Benefits provider – financial benefit to employees and their families with opportunities to obtain discounts on a range of commodities.

  • Private health care – offers piece of mind for both employee and employer, and can include, for example, claims for hospital stays and holistic treatment such as acupuncture.

  • Financial – assistance with personal budgeting, and a credit union for savings and loans via the organisation.

  • Pension scheme – this will assist future financial planning.

We find intangible benefits have just as much value:

  • Regular staff meetings (or ‘group hugs’) – enables the organisation to provide updates on achievements, and a medium so staff can ask questions to check their understanding.

  • Individual 121 meetings – enables  the team member to feel valued, as it can mean a lot to have ‘121 me time’.

  • Team brain storming days – annual or quarterly events where the workforce comes together with a common aim to take the agreed strategy forward; and provides a level of ownership as the workforce can comment and make suggestions to assist strategy planning.

  • Knowledge share sessions – these concentrate on a detailed update (e.g. bringing a new product or service to market or simply understanding how to make use of the benefits package) and enable the same message to be delivered simultaneously to numerous staff; the area/department concerned has the chance to present to colleagues and peers which is great for development.

  • Employee voice – setting up a forum enables your team to provide suggestions for improvement, which helps to give ownership, creates inclusion and allows the ‘employee voice’ to be heard.

Depending on your team the introduction of other services can provide more resilience to your workforce; so, perhaps consider:

  • Coaching – which builds on strengths the individual possesses.

  • Mentoring – which serves to transfer knowledge or experience to advance the individual’s understanding.

  • Counselling services – to assist with, for example: crisis coping; responding to distress associated with living; need to make changes in one’s life; health problems.

The holistic approach provides tangible and intangible benefits that support individual needs and shows empathy with our teams. Not everything involves significant investment as the small things matter and add up, leading employees to feel valued and under less pressure – a win-win all round. 

In summary, if like the CIPP your organisation’s aim is to employ and retain good staff you need to take care of their health and wellbeing, as a happy and well team is a productive team.