THE BLOG

Can Corporate Fitness Programs Save the NHS?

15/08/2014 16:12 BST | Updated 14/10/2014 10:12 BST

The NHS has a huge black hole of an estimated £2 billion according to the Times. This is going to lead to longer waiting lists, huge staffing cuts and a compromise in patient care

Another huge leakage in the British economy is related to poor health in the workplace. This costs the British economy an estimated £100 billion pounds annually through sickness and absence.

But I believe there is a solution: if more private companies invested in corporate fitness/wellbeing schemes it would save the NHS billions of pounds annually.

The government themselves have a health and wellbeing initiative in place to raise awareness on health and the importance of a balanced lifestyle. This is a cross-government scheme partnering with The Department Of Health, The Department of Work and Pensions, The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, The Health and Safety Executive, the Scottish government and the Welsh government. Their aim is to provide support to employers on a healthier workplace, improve occupational health and increase employment opportunities. The initiative brings benefits to all. Better health for individuals, improved productivity and reduced absence for employers and a reduction in the amount of people claiming sickness benefits and reducing health spending for the government.

In a study commissioned by The City Of London Corporation they interviewed 20 large city firms employing over 10,000 people on workplace health promotion programs. This study highlighted the importance of workplace health and wellbeing schemes.

In London an estimated average firm size of 250 employees loses around ¼ of million pounds annually due to sickness absences.

It's all very well to have a government health and wellbeing initiative, however most companies do not even run a corporate fitness/wellbeing program let alone have a health and wellbeing policy in place.

'Google' take their health and wellbeing programs very seriously. They have over 26,000 employees in over 60 different countries to manage. In 2010 they launched their extended healthcare plan called 'Optimise Your Life Program'. The program is based on three pillars; emotional health, physical health and financial health. The main benefits of the program include the employee assistance program (EAP), life coaching, meditation, rooms for power napping, health coverage for employees and their families, promotion of fitness and nutrition and finally employees to be financially literate.

So this is Google, but how are British firms tackling this problem?

Well, British firms who are tackling this problem are few and far between. Adidas UK LTD, BNP Paribas and Forrester Research Limited won awards for Britain's healthiest company - this was supported and featured in the Sunday Telegraph.

I believe that British businesses are beginning to understand the importance of corporate fitness/wellbeing schemes and the mounting evidence supports this. Health and wellbeing schemes reduce sickness, improve productivity and general wellbeing - there need to be more of these programs - they work well.

If more British businesses decided to collaborate and set up a workplace health and wellbeing movement, London would have a huge advantage over other cities.

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Courtesy of bigstock images

The multi million-dollar question is:

How much money would the NHS save if more British businesses ran corporate wellbeing initiatives within the workplace?

Would corporate fitness/wellbeing programs have a massive impact to the NHS?

How much more revenue would businesses and the British economy save by running these health and wellbeing initiatives?

These are all very good questions that need answers but this is the bottom line!

1. The NHS continues to fall more into the red - leading to an increase in bankruptcy for some foundation trusts.

2. British businesses do not take responsibility for their own employee health and wellbeing initiatives leading to physical, emotional and mental stress.

3. Society will suffer from the increase in lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity and depression.

Or alternatively

1. British businesses collaborate and support a health and wellbeing initiative that benefits all.

2. Having happier employees will lead to an increase in productivity, engagement, revenue and performance.

3. Employees and their families live a life that maximises their long-term physical and mental health.

So which choice should British businesses choose?