Wellbeing must become a boardroom priority, says Bupa

Healthcare provider Bupa is urging leaders to take ownership of wellbeing in order to ensure both their employees – and organisations – can become more resilient.

Business leaders need to be at the forefront of efforts to lift wellbeing out of the HR department and into the boardroom, according to healthcare provider Bupa.

Speaking today (28 June) at the launch of its 2017 Wellbeing Edit, Bupa corporate director Patrick Watt urged leaders to take a visible stand on ensuring wellbeing is high on the business agenda.

“Fundamentally, people look to leaders to determine whether this is an authentic agenda or not, and I think it’s hugely encouraging to see so many senior business leaders take this agenda seriously and talk openly about the importance to them and their business,” said Watt.

“We’re seeing more senior business leaders talk about their own experiences [with mental health]. It starts to bring to life that this isn’t something that just happens to someone else, someone who is weak or not capable of performing at their best. Mental health is indiscriminate and as a consequence we should all be very well aware of the impact it can have.”

The younger generation want more than just finances to drive them and there’s also a different level of health literacy for different age groups.

Poppy Jaman, Mental Health First Aid England

He noted that greater openness around mental health is leading to increased demand in people seeking support, resulting in an uptake in employers extending their mental health provision and more organisations looking to provide onsite psychological therapies.

READ MORE: How to hire neurodiverse people 

Mental Health First Aid England CEO Poppy Jaman, who contributed to Bupa’s Wellbeing Edit, agreed that for teams to thrive businesses need to think about establishing “health creating environments”. She argued that to be relevant organisations need to tailor their approach to appeal to different generations, who often show a marked difference in their expectations of work.

“The younger generation want more than just finances to drive them and there’s also a different level of health literacy for different age groups. So we need to be tailoring messages for different generations,” Jaman added.

This message was echoed by Dr Paul Litchfield, chair of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing, who urged leaders to put wellbeing at the top of their recruitment agenda.

“All organisations are desperate to get talent and if we want to get the best people then we’ve got to appeal to what their interest is and they’re interested in wellbeing,” said Litchfield. “Organisations can ignore that if they want and get second-rate people, but our businesses will absolutely crash and burn.”

To stimulate wellbeing Litchfield said businesses should strive to make it a “proper academic discipline” within the organisation, which pulls together disparate sources of information and translates them into something meaningful.

In order to achieve an evidence-based, standardised measure of wellbeing Litchfield suggests businesses should integrate Office of National Statistics questions relating to wellbeing into their company wide surveys to make the link between wellbeing and hard business objectives like productivity or the net promoter score.

Marketing Week will be exploring the need for businesses to prioritise wellbeing in the workplace in more depth during July.