Newly published research shows that health and wellbeing programmes in the workplace can deliver a return on investment of 6 to 1, through lower absence rates and improved productivity.
This was one of the key messages at the official launch of the Royal Institute of Public Health's new qualification in "Understanding Health Improvement", held in November.
Businesses of varying sizes were selected for case studies, whoch showed how Carphone Warehouse, Royal Mail and T Allen Stockholders Ltd (a small private company in Derbyshire) benefited from the introduction of workplace health trainers.
Peer communication and support are most effective in influencing staff to change their behaviour and choose a healthier lifestyle, said the speakers.
As each employer tends to have its own culture, staff – rather than healthcare professionals – are best placed to guide employees towards eating more healthily, doing more exercise, stopping smoking and drinking responsibly.
Research from Vielife Ltd, a company specialising in health and wellbeing programmes, shows that 25% of total healthcare costs are directly attributable to lifestyle choices such as lack of exercise, excessive alcohol and smoking, and that health intervention programmes in the workplace can have a big impact on the business bottom line.