CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
WPA Protocol seminar: Health + Productivity – Fact or Fiction, London, UK, 19 September 2011
Article Type: Resources From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 11, Issue 2
Rachel RileyManaging director of WPA Protocol.
Leaps of faith do not enhance careers so why are so many corporate decisions made without objective data to support the decision. This was the driver behind WPA Protocol Plc (Protocol), one of the UK’s leading corporate healthcare trust providers, organizing a conference on health and productivity for over 200 employee benefits consultants and HR directors. The aim was to set out the facts and raise, if not ignite, a debate around what works and what does not work.
A clear business case
Dee Edington, author of seminal text Zero Trends, underlined the need to keep the healthy, healthy, by concentrating on the low risk rather than those already sick. Chronic conditions represent the majority of corporate healthcare costs in America and if this type of condition can be avoided productivity can only increase while inevitable costs are delayed.
Dame Carol Black, the UK’s national director for Health and Work has previously observed that sickness absence alone costs UK companies in the region of £100 billion per year, just under the annual budget for the entire NHS (National Health Service). Dame Carol commented: “Employers have been building the business case for wellbeing to be embedded into company activity from public reporting to buy-in from the CEO and boardroom. This is about more than just offering short-term initiatives – it is about long-term commitment in an area that can more than reap a return on investment.”
ROI data required
Having identified robust return on investment data in the United States, Protocol has set about translating American best practice into British reality. The idea that wellness programs will reduce medical insurance premiums is delusional at worst and marginal at best – there is no objective data to support such a notion. Comparing the UK and the US, the UK is held back by an accessible and comprehensive welfare state, which does nothing to incentivise healthy lifestyles as there is a full support network at minimal cost to the individual. In the US, no job equals no healthcare, a significant difference.
In America wellness programs increase productivity; Johnson and Johnson (J&J) reported $3 gains in productivity for every $1 spent and Karen Linn (J&J UK) has begun a parallel journey for its EMEA businesses. Despite there being a considerable corporate wellness industry in the UK there is an embarrassing lack of data to support the efficacy of such programs. There is a need for measured wellness programs that prove return on investment if finance directors are going to underwrite the costs of such programs.