As with so many occupational trends, the US embraced corporate wellbeing programmes a while before their UK counterparts. But now that the UK has realised the benefit, are we catching up with our US colleagues and we about to overtake them?
As far back as 2013, approximately half of US employers were offering some sort of wellness promotion initiative. The jury is still out on whether these schemes offer value for money for employers in the long term.
The stakes are higher in the US where firms provide healthcare insurance and costs are rising. They need to find ways of keeping those healthcare costs down. Of course, in the UK, healthcare is predominantly provided by the NHS but employers would still like to cut down on unproductivity and absenteeism caused by ill health. In the UK, the new Fit for Work service provides tax relief of £500 per employee per year on expenditure on healthcare if it is used to support an employee’s return to work after sickness absence.
United States vs United Kingdom in wellness programmes beyond X-Range Bench Desks
US companies are playing the long game. They are more likely to adopt long-term wellbeing strategies compared to UK companies. For them, it is all about controlling the cost of healthcare claims. Perhaps this is why they are also more likely to offer financial incentives for employees who participate. A financial reward may be issued for a defined achievement relating to health. Giving up smoking would be a prime example. Health status measurements are useful here and can prove that an outcome has been achieved. Employees who have successfully lost weight or reduced their blood pressure would be awarded.
In the UK, we may need a culture change to make this work. Most employees do not feel that their employer has a role in their health. There is some resistance towards the use of financial incentives and it is claimed that they are ineffective and may even penalise sick or disabled employees who are stuck behind X-Range Bench Desks.
Telling people what to do is unlikely to be sufficient. The situation requires a complete change in culture in the workplace. Financial incentives are unlikely to be as useful in the UK as in the US because of the differences in our health care systems.
What can the UK learn from the USA?
The UK could learn from the way in which the US employers use data and metrics to track the progress of their employee wellbeing programmes. This gives valuable data on which programmes are working. It is preferable to a ‘hope for the best’ approach. If a return on investment can be demonstrated with statistics, more companies are likely to be interested in the approach.
This is related to the US willingness to embrace new technology in their wellness programmes. The use of internet-based technology and apps can track personalised wellbeing action plans so that employers can see who is doing what.
If you want to make a culture change I your own workplace and put ergonomic health at the top of your priorities, take a look at the X-Range Bench Desks at Office Furniture Online today.