Wellness matters for all employees – wherever they are
BrewDog’s paid Puppy Parental Leave for new dog owners, and weekly yoga classes at Qubit’s offices are among the quirkier policies offered by companies to look after the wellbeing off their staff.
Then there’s the more standard perks designed to improve employees’ health and wellbeing, including free gym memberships and subsidised meals.
How important are these wellness benefits though? And do you need to start implementing them for your employees?
“Employers are broadening their horizons when it comes to rewarding and incentivising employees,” says Laura Matthews, workplace wellbeing consultant at Barnett Waddingham. She adds: “A happy and flourishing workforce will be engaged and productive.”
But not all companies offer such benefits. A 2017 survey of UK workers by PwC showed more than half (54%) work for companies which do not offer health benefits such as counselling, health screening and subsidised gym memberships.
Don’t forget staff overseas
Many HR and finance managers may not consider wellness benefits as essentials for business travellers. But as David Price, CEO and wellbeing expert at Health Assured, says: “Taking a positive approach to staff perks – in and out of the office - demonstrates an employer’s commitment to supporting its employees, helping to cultivate a caring and conscientious company culture.”
Companies should consider budgeting for extra expenses to cater for overseas wellness and schedule extra time into trip itineraries. Once they have determined what is eligible under their expenses policy, they can then communicate this to their employees.
David at Health Assured says companies shouldn’t be put off by the financial costs of providing perks either in the workplace or on overseas trips as “these can be seen as a business investment which is likely to lead to a more committed and prosperous workforce”.
Companies can offer such perks on an informal basis, David adds: “Employers have the flexibility to remove certain provisions if they are no longer financially viable for the organisation.”
Warning that hours of travelling, time zone changes, back-to-back meetings and hectic schedules can take their toll on the body and mind, travel company Travel Counsellors suggests creating a corporate travel wellness programme. This might include options such as providing an allowance for exercise classes for business travellers or extending trips with days booked for “bleisure”.
Don’t fall into money-saving traps such as booking employees into the cheapest seat of a long-haul flight, says Eamon Tuhami, CEO & founder at Motivii: “It can be a total false economy. Have you ever tried to go to work straight after a twelve hour flight? How did you do?”
He adds: "I always try and fly employees business class if it's expected that they need to work straight after arriving. That's not so they get free champagne (though that's nice), but because long-haul flights are exhausting. It's too much to expect employees to go straight into a meeting after they get off the plane and perform at their best."
Alternatively, staff who travel frequently may end up exhausted and unmotivated – or even suffer burnout. “We were acutely aware that several clients had people burn out within their organisation,” says Melanie Quinn, commercial director at business travel provider CTI.
In response, CTI recently launched a range of health packages for business travellers, including pre-trip screening and health coaching.
Melanie points to pressure from colleagues who remain in the office. They don’t always understand the stresses business travel can entail and might deem overseas trips to be a glamorous perk. “Many business travellers feel pressure to log on at same time as people in the UK, despite time differences. They also don’t eat the right things on the aircraft, and don’t hydrate enough,” Melanie says.
She adds: “This is becoming an increasing problem for people with high volume travel requirements internationally. The travelling community are generally the highest paid assets within the business. It’s important they are in the right shape physically and mentally.”
‘Bleisure’ is no longer a new buzzword. 72% of business travellers regularly extend their work trips for rest, relaxation and sightseeing. Have you considered how to make bleisure work for your business?