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Employee wellbeing: whose responsibility is it anyway?

Wellness | Resource

Posted on: Wednesday September 09, 2020

In these uncertain times, employees have become increasingly more reliant on their employer to protect their health and wellbeing.

Whilst employers have a duty of care to their workforce, are employees beginning to neglect their own crucial role in staying healthy? Perhaps now more than ever is the time for businesses to put a greater focus on encouraging and supporting employees to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.

This week we’re highlighting how employers can provide the right resources to help employees do so.

Big Brother?

It’s an individual choice what we eat – and how much – and the same goes for exercise.  But employers can offer advice and support which can make it easier for employees to follow a healthy lifestyle.

It’s easy to sound patronising when talking about health, and no employer wants to alienate their workforce by preaching at them. However, in the post-COVID age, we’re seeing a shift towards valuing employees’ health as an asset worth investing in. Despite some possible reluctance amongst staff to discuss this, starting a conversation around health is the right thing to do.

There is another player in the mix when it comes to encouraging healthy behaviours and that is of course the government, currently spearheading a new anti-obesity campaign to help people stay well.

However, the question of how companies should help people to manage their weight and fitness without invading privacy is a tricky one. In the past employers have ran courses that have helped employees struggling with alcohol misuse, or smoking cessation programmes. By learning from these schemes and their shared aim of encouraging positive change without seeking to judge people for their choices, employers may be able to approach the topic of diet and lifestyle choices in a way that will be welcomed.

How businesses can help employees improve their health

Fitness challenges

Make exercise fun and social by hosting a friendly competition like a step challenge or miles run/cycled. You could offer to sponsor a group of employees undertaking a fitness challenge for charity or promote a local event like a fun run amongst staff.

Share knowledge

Use your company’s internal communication channels to give employees access to reliable, fact-checked tips on leading a healthy lifestyle. There’s so much health advice out there - and often contradictory - that it can be useful to have everything in one place, coming from a trusted source. You can curate your own content, or feel free to share our Hapi-life articles.

Wearable tech

With technology benefit schemes, employees can save money on fitness trackers like Garmin and Fitbit. These can be really helpful in staying motivated and measuring progress towards personal fitness goals.

Discounted gym membership

By offering employees money off a monthly membership, cost need not be an excuse to skip the gym.


A decent pair of trainers is a must-have, but some people can be put off by this upfront cost. Offering retail employee discounts at sports retailers will help them save money on essential bits of kit. 

Set a good example

As part of encouraging employees to get healthier, it’s important that you take a look at company culture around diet and exercise. If you don’t already, make sure that employees have access to healthy options at company catering facilities; perhaps even subsidising these to encourage good habits.

Cycle to work

Employees can save money on a new bike or cycling equipment using their employer’s Cycle to Work scheme. If you already have one, do some digging into take-up rates. Who’s using it at the moment? Are there groups of employees who don’t seem engaged with the idea? If so, what can you do to drive adoption?

We hope this has given you some insight into how to help employees make healthier choices without invading their privacy. We’ll be returning to the changing expectations around employee wellbeing in future blogs, so stay tuned for more.

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