British Gas Business (BGB) employs some 2,500 employees at various UK sites. Staff work in telesales and debt collection, finance, human resources and information systems.
A number of changes were made in an endeavour to increase employee focus on well-being at work, in the belief that a healthy workforce is good for business.
BGB asked staff what they thought would improve their well-being through surveys and focus groups. The organisation implemented smoking cessation classes, introduced healthy eating options in the canteen, massage sessions and fitness classes, and involved family members in fun activities around the workplace such as Christmas parties and summer barbecues. In addition, a number of more innovative ideas included organisation of voluntary community schemes to encourage employees to undertake voluntary work for charities, and promotion of workplace raffles, football games and Christmas tree decorating competitions.
These interventions were supported by traditional health, safety and HR support, such as the BSB Employee Assistance Programme, support for carers and flexible working options.
As a result of these and other activities over the period 2004 and 2006, BSB report that they achieved 12% reduction in staff absence and 25% reduction in staff turnover. A survey of employees showed increased employee engagement and commitment scores. BSB also reported wins in the Financial Times ‘Great places to work’, the Sunday Times ‘Best companies to work for’, a BBC Workplace Health Award and a European Call Centre Award.
Food manufacturer Kellogg’s employs 1,600 people in the UK, working in production, packing and administration. In 2003 they launched their “Fit for Life” initiative to encourage employees to enjoy life by taking exercise and eating sensibly.
The ‘Fit for Life’ programme provided nutritional advice from Kelloggs’ consumer nutritionists and health and lifestyle screening (including blood pressure testing, heart and cholesterol checks, analysis of smoking, alcohol and activity levels), provided by the occupational health team with help from the community leisure trust. Other aspects of the programme included free taster sessions on sports and exercise, workplace courses including kick aerobics and circuit training, and information on similar classes in the locality.
A staff survey was used to collect information and assist in the design of interventions to meet the needs of different types of staff, their locations and their shift patterns. Sport England funding was secured to support the programme.
Kellogg’s reports that the programme led to improved fitness. It has been reported that around 50% of staff took part at the UK headquarters and 90% of staff were registered users of the office fitness centre. At another UK location, around 90% staff were reported to be users of the local leisure centre, with a 50% increase in use between 2005 and 2007.
Based in Alderley Edge in Cheshire, Chess plc is one of the North West’s fastest growing businesses delivering business telecom solutions. Chess plc employs some 92 people.
Chess plc set out to improve costly absence from work, leading to increased productivity and create a healthy and happy workforce.
The HR team manage sickness absence through back to work interviews, self-certification forms and referring people to the company doctor. The company offered staff free bananas, apples, oranges and grapes to encourage healthy eating, as well as mineral water and the option of a bi-monthly massage. Free flu jabs were provided for all employees, and the Government Bike Scheme was promoted to help staff purchase a bike and encourage people cycle to work.
Chess plc reported that these changes led to an overall trend of increased productivity, citing; reduction in the average number of sick days per person to 1.73 in a year, significantly less than the National Average. Following the introduction of free flu jabs, Chess plc said the amount of sick leave taken for flu related illness was more than halved. A staff survey showed that 87% of respondents rated their working environment as good.
Chess plc have believe that the benefits of looking after the well-being of employees have been so positive that more time and resource is being allocated to making Chess a healthy workplace.
For more about how these types of intervention could be implemented in your workplace, contact us.