Room on board

Does
the formation of the European Health & Performance Management Community
mean workplace health has finally reached boardroom level?  By Clive Pinder

T
o promote research and investment into the link between the health and well-being
(HWB) of employees and key business drivers, a group of leading UK companies
have formed the European Health & Performance Management Community.

Too
often, executive management pays lip service to the mantra, ‘Our people are our
greatest asset’. HR is only called to the boardroom when another round of
redundancies is being announced and occupational health (OH) is buried away in
the basement under a mound of health and safety compliance.

However,
a small but growing group of progressive organisations, including Unilever,
Goldman Sachs, Marks & Spencer, BP, Kimberly-Clarke, MBNA, Standard Life
and The Royal Bank of Scotland, have come together to show they take OH more
seriously.

These
companies, supported by leading corporate health service providers including
Towers Perrin, Standard Life Healthcare, ICAS and Sona Health, recognise the
HWB of human capital is at the core of competitive advantage and are investing
in proactive programmes to measure and improve the ‘wellness’ of their employee
population.

These
companies have launched a knowledge sharing forum, the European Health &
Performance Management Community (eHPM), with the help of the Institute of
Health & Productivity (IHPM), a US-based employers’ forum, and vielife, the
UK’s leading corporate health management company.

The
goal of the eHPM is “to promote and validate interest and investment in
proactive health and well-being programmes that optimise individual and
organisational performance”.

The
community has grown to more than 60 people and vielife is already planning to
develop regional forums to support employers in Scotland, Ireland and the North
West. Health and well-being will become a critical success factor in effective
human capital management, and the eHPM wants to ensure that happens on the back
of proven research and practical knowledge sharing.

The
research programme is already underway, with the first programme of its kind in
the UK and the US hoping to prove there is a direct link between the HWB of
people and key business drivers, such as productivity, customer satisfaction,
and the costs of ill health.

“There
is a significant body of US-centric research that proves the positive return on
investment (ROI) of investing in the promotion of health and well-being in the
workplace,” says Dr John Cooper, global director of OH at Unilever. “There is
every reason to believe that European-based organisations can also benefit from
these types of programmes, and our support of the eHPM and the associated
research is based on this hypothesis.”

Indeed,
one of the founder members of the community, Standard Life Healthcare, has
already realised an annualised ROI of 6.28:1, from a programme managed by
vielife, that has seen absenteeism reduced by 29 per cent, staff turnover by 60
per cent and productivity increased by 10 per cent.

Vince
Mewett, director of HR at Standard Life Healthcare, says: “As organisations
look to achieve more and more with fewer and fewer resources, it is critical we
empower our people with the knowledge and programmes they need to perform at
their best. It makes sense for them, and it makes sense for the company.”

The
community meets every quarter at the offices of one of its members, with the
last meeting being hosted by the head of OH at Marks & Spencer, Dr Tommy
MacDonald-Milner. Themes change at every meeting, with the latest being the
current hot topic of ‘Stress in the Workplace – Is it a Bad Thing?’

“We
try to incorporate a case study from one of the members, an interactive
learning session to enable knowledge sharing, as well as a practical training
presentation to provide the community with the tools and knowledge needed to
make positive changes among their population,” says MacDonald-Milner.

Sean
Sullivan, president of the IHPM, says: “While disease management is a strategic
imperative in the US, the issues in the UK are slightly different given the
socialised healthcare platform. In fact, the UK is leading the way in
programmes that focus on improving the energy and performance of the healthy
employee base to make a direct and positive impact on the bottom line.”

Membership
is free, but all service providers who attend are required to bring along at
least two employers to ensure the community remains employer-centric. For more
information on how to join the eHPM, contact Clive Pinder at c.pinder@vielife.com

www.ihpm.org
www.vielife.com

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