Health and wellbeing will become the new CSR for companies, say Nuffield Health and Ashridge Business School

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Companies need to develop a strategic approach to health and wellbeing and concentrate on building a “sustainable workforce” if they are to remain competitive, according to Nuffield Health and Ashridge Business School.

At a briefing in London this morning, Nuffield Health chief executive David Mobbs said that employee health is fast becoming one of the biggest challenges for companies. "We already worry about the sustainability of the environment, but in the future it's going to be about the sustainability of the health of your workforce,

"Health and wellbeing will become the new CSR," he added

The research, carried out in partnership with Ashridge Business School and released earlier this year, pulled together fresh and existing statistics to paint a full picture of corporate health in the UK.

It found that 72% of workers had gone into work ill last year and more than half of employees have gone in with a contagious illness and a third are more likely to go in sick because of the economic downturn.

"It is very clear that wellbeing is an issue for employers that has impact on the bottom line," said Judith Parson, business director at Ashridge Business School. "The impact of illness in a large organisation is millions of pounds. Investing in wellbeing is not just a nice thing to have, it has a solid impact on profitability," she said

Marcus Powell, Nuffield's Group OD and HR director, said: "We're moving away from wellbeing as a benefits package,

"You can't just have a benefits package as a proxy for wellbeing being embedded in organisational purpose and having good leadership."

At the briefing, Powell was also clear that the only way to increase engagement in health and wellbeing schemes, was to empower employees to "co-create" initiatives to suit them.

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