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What Does a Healthy Workforce Look Like?


Throughout recent weeks we’ve discussed in depth the benefits of occupational physiotherapy, how to measure it and how to achieve success and ROI with it as a wellness program.

For the last blog in this series we’re going to conclude with what a healthy workforce looks like once you’ve implemented, evaluated and reaped the benefits of your well-being program of choice and encompassed other elements of organisational culture.

Well-being Program Qualities

If we focus on well-being programs specifically to start, we’ve taken the below points from the CIPD report “Growing the Health and Well-being Agenda: From First Steps to Full Potential”. These are summarised to include the following attributes of what a successful well-being program looks like:

  • The well-being program has formal evaluation methods in place
  • The well-being program is being used by employees! (This often comes from a promotional plan of its benefits from the start)
  • Targets are set and measured against in relation to key metrics such as absence rates
  • One or all of these three areas are covered; health and safety, management of ill-health and prevention and promotion of ill health

Organisational and Environmental Qualities

With regard to employer and environmental qualities, the report mentions the below results of a happy workforce:

  • Employees work in a values-based working environment
  • Open lines of communication exist throughout the organisational hierarchy across all levels
  • There is clarity and unity of organisational purpose

Cultural Qualities

Lastly, let’s conclude with some cultural qualities likely to be present in an organisation with a healthy workforce.

  • Culturally, a work/life balance is encouraged and the culture flexible where flexibility fits and is possible
  • Compensation is fair and spans both salary and benefits
  • A holistic approach is taken covering financial wellness and mental health aspects such as stress

To conclude, the CIPD summarises the above in its graphic displaying the five domains of well-being. You can find this on page 24 of the report.

CIPD Well-being Graphic


  • A healthy workforce encompasses both cultural and target-driven elements
  • A holistic approach to well-being is best
  • Data matters in achieving wider business success through well-being  

CIPD eGuideWe summarise more of the CIPD report mentioned in our free eGuide which you can download here.



Popular Evaluation Methods for Well-being Programs


The high importance of evaluation in well-being program success is documented and discussed in the CIPD report “Growing the Health and Well-being Agenda: From First Steps to Full Potential” is. The CIPD states that this importance lies in both achieving the best results and securing future budget.

There is further discussion on why evaluation is so important in our blog on hard data in wellness, but for this discussion we’re moving on to popular evaluation methods for wellness instead.

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Office Calculator

Company Buy-in: How to Drive a Successful Well-being Program


*See this blog on Nudjed too – a company helping to deliver ROI for well-being.*

Many options are available for companies that are looking to improve performance and decrease absence in the workplace through well-being programs.

Ultimately, the results of these programs will dictate not just their success, but how viable they will be to run in the future.

There are two key areas that will dictate the success of your campaign:

  • Board level buy-in
  • Whole business buy-in

To get both the board and the company to buy-in to your program are two completely separate challenges. This blog will explore how you need to approach both challenges in a different way, and demonstrate what you need to drive a successful well-being program.

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Physiotherapy Treatment

The Wider Benefits of Dealing with Workplace Absence


We’ve written previously about the hard numbers and colossal cost when it comes to workplace absence, however the benefits of reducing this aren’t restricted to numerical savings off your absence bill every year. This post will discuss two wider benefits of dealing with workplace absence as a result of occupational physiotherapy we’ve had fed back to us from our clients.

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How to Calculate the Cost of Absence

For businesses of all sizes, absence can be expensive. The CIPD estimates absence costs a company an average of around £554 – £557 per employee, per year depending on whether they are a manual or non-manual worker and these costs can quickly start to stack up within larger workforces.

Calculating Your Organisation’s Workplace Absence

Working out how much absence is costing your company can be a little complicated, but if you’re just starting to understand this cost, a useful place to start is the following calculation, called the Lost Time Rate:

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The Importance of Data in Wellness Programs

The cost of absence to employers is staggering, running up a bill of billions to UK businesses annually. It is for this reason that as more data has become available, wellness programs have flourished as they work on reducing the cost of absence to businesses and increasing the positive effect of wellness on organisational well-being.

One common concern when looking to implement a wellness program, is how to decide on the right wellness program for an organisation – as these can range from offering free fruit and fitness classes, to counselling and resilience training, to physiotherapy and medical care.

And to this end, data and evaluation can be a great aid in making this important business decision.

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Exercise – the cure for all ills?

I’ve been practising or working in the physiotherapy field for 23 years so you would expect me to know a bit about the importance of physical health. But this week, it’s REALLY struck me that physical health is not just important – it’s vital! And the more I think about it, the more I think that good physical health, and therefore exercise, is the keystone to ALL health!

Exercise and Workplace Health

In fact there doesn’t seem to be many illnesses or conditions where exercise doesn’t have a role in prevention and cure. This is what I have read about the benefits of exercise just in the last 2 weeks:


This past week alone, I have woken up to the news that many researchers believe that exercise is the most effective treatment for cancer prevention.


Exercise should be prescribed by doctors to those with Type II Diabetes to control blood sugar and insulin insensitivity.


It has been long proven that exercise plays a vital role in reducing arthritis symptoms, but this past month, new research suggests that high intensity training can reduce Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain.

Cardiovascular Disease

Still the Number 1 biggest killer in the UK yet news out today shows we are getting complacent despite it being preventable in many cases. Lack of exercise doubles our risk of having a heart attack.

Respiratory Disease

Research has shown that exercise can improve breathing among people with a respiratory disease, although it is recognised that participating in any type of physical activity while your lung function progressively declines is not an enjoyable experience.

Back Pain

A new piece of research confirmed that a combination of exercise and education is still the most effective approach for treatment and prevention of back pain.

Mental Health Conditions

People with mental health disorders are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic physical health conditions, says new research, but as physiotherapists, we have long known of the link between physical and mental health.

So what does that mean for us involved with sickness absence in the workplace? For me, it is clear. Occupational Health and Wellbeing Services and Programmes should focus on improving their employees’ physical fitness. The need for physiotherapists, as the exercise rehabilitation specialists, in the work place has never been stronger. By addressing employees’ physical activity into their treatment plan, we can proactively help with all sickness absence, not just musculoskeletal cases.


The BIA Philosophy Gains Momentum and Beating The January Gym Crowds

An article published in Science Daily recently proved music to our team’s ears as it spoke of the effectiveness of wellness programs, and how many dollars are lost to ineffective programs. Additionally, we came across a fun piece in The Huffington Post about hot to navigate busy workout spaces as newly invigorated resolutions are run, x-trained and stepped up in the gym.

Study Details

Firstly, In the largest study of its kind, researchers from the University of Michigan have looked into workplace wellness programs and their effectiveness. Ten modifiable health risks across seven industries were assessed using a colossal sample size of 223,500 participants.

Study Results

In short, the study results show that one out of every four dollars that employers spend on healthcare is for lifestyle-related ailments such as smoking, stress or obesity. The catch comes in that most large employers have wellness programs! So despite actively investing in their employee’s health, they still spend a quarter of their healthcare budget on treating preventable conditions.

Thus the question arises, how effective is the typical corporate wellness program, and how can it be made more-so? One of the main points made was that wellness programs can be very superficial, lessening their effectiveness as they don’t get to the crux of the problem.

What We Think

This study was music to our ears and we recommend reading the rest of it here. Our in-house physiotherapy clinics run monthly for our clients which means our ROI value is one of the highest around at 11 to 1. If you’re going to invest in a wellness program that works, something substantial and ongoing is far more likely to pay dividends when it comes to saved healthcare spend, particularly around lifestyle-related illnesses.

January Gym Fever Hits the UK

Lastly, it’s January and people’s New Year’s Resolution’s are firmly in play – as a result, your gym has never likely seemed busier. For this reason, Huffington Post has the below ideas for navigating your way through the running machines for the remainder of this month!

Lunchtimes are quieter: If you can nip out of work at lunchtime to train, this can result in a much easier session with far less queuing! Mornings and evenings before and after work are commonly the busiest.
Brave the cold: Get your vitamin D, wake up call and endorphins all in one hit and without a queue in sight by taking your workout outside this month.
Try something new: Challenging your body with something new and a machine that doesn’t have a big queue in front of it can help your workout, and your January fitness goals.
Cancel for January: Lots of big gym chains allow for memberships to be paused, so if you really can’t stand the extra people, knock it on the head for the month.

WSB Supports Telephone Triage in Improving Employee Wellbeing

The WSB (Workplace Savings and Benefits) website recently revealed trends from the Aon Employee Annual Benefits and Trends Survey. The survey questions employers and their influence on employee health.

Medical Equipment

Employers Take Responsibility

“Three-quarters (75%) of employers believe they are responsible for positively influencing employee health.”

Employers recognise their responsibility to look after their teams and the lost income that can result from having members of staff off sick.

Other Survey Results

However when it comes to the specifics of just how they help their worker’s wellbeing, it gets a little blurry as 72% of survey respondents lack a specific health budget.

Some other interesting findings include:

  • 38% of respondents do not make use of data or analytics to inform or drive their corporate health and wellbeing strategy
  • 52% cite the implementation of some sort of telephone medical/GP service, these were also recommended from the survey
  • 23% do not communicate around health and wellness at all
  • 53% of the 294 respondents believe flexible working to be key in ensuring employee wellbeing

Telephone Triage

With telephone being mentioned as one of the more popular wellbeing strategies, our telephone triage services fits in perfectly. We align ourselves with the latest scientific knowledge to pass on to our clients and improve their health in a cost-effective way. You can learn more here and see just how effective this wellbeing tactic is at providing ROI for businesses and outstanding value for money.

The awareness of health and the need for employers to improve this in their teams is recognised and has increased on last year. However, there is still some way to go in translating to specific budgets and quantifiable results for wellbeing initiatives.

We’re witnessing a positive change – and may the change continue to take place!

Latest Updates from Fit for Work

Employees at workNow the Government’s Fit for Work scheme has had time to be digested and analysed by media channels and health professionals alike, it’s interesting to see just where the dust has settled in the world of work. We’ve got the latest news on Fit for Work and how employers in particular are viewing the regime.

Employers Remain Willing

Results from the 2015/16 Jelf Employee Benefits survey indicate that 7 out of 10 employers questioned would be happy to refer absent employees towards the new scheme if family doctor’s did not do so, indicating they’re generally positive about the initiative.

Existing Occupational Physiotherapists Hold Favour

Twenty two percent of those questioned also maintained they would refer their long term absent to their existing occupational physiotherapy provider; with wellbeing being a huge issue at the moment, a number of companies have monthly onsite or in-house clinics so their staff can stay healthy. The numbers show these private clinics are proving themselves ever more popular and valuable to the companies using them.

From the survey, only 3% said they would not take any action.

Fit for Work Awareness

On the other side of the coin concerns have arisen from those affiliated with the scheme that awareness of Fit for Work is too low. To this end the survey results also indicated that nearly half of employers would be communicating to their workforces about Fit for Work in the coming year not before – therefore it is unlikely we will see many referrals until then. Awareness among GPs at the moment is also said to be low.

Steve Herbert, head of benefits strategy at Jelf Employee Benefits said:

“Our figures suggest that many more absent employees will now benefit from an assessment by an occupational health professional either via Fit for Work, or a more bespoke company-sponsored occupational health arrangement. This can only be a good thing for all concerned”.

Thoughts are positive for Fit for Work, but there’s still a long way to go until we can comment on its success.

Back in Action UK

If you’d like to learn more about Fit for Work and how it affects you, you can read our Director Alex Bell’s blog – here.