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Benefits Case Study: Chapel Down - A healthy attitude to winemaking

Wine producer Chapel Down is toasting the success of a brand-aligned wellbeing scheme, designed to add passion and fizz to employees' daily lives.

How it works

Working at a vineyard in the Kent countryside sounds idyllic. But the management at Chapel Down felt a responsibility to promote sensible eating and drinking, exercise and hydration among staff, particularly in an environment where alcoholic products are so central.

A wellbeing programme that encouraged a fizzy outlook on life was also seen as a way for employees to reflect the wine brand. The scheme gives staff access to an interactive health kiosk, supplied by consultancy Water Wellpoint, four times a year. This measures weight, hydration quota, body mass index, body fat content, heart rate and blood pressure. Quarterly talks offer an opportunity to learn about diet, exercise and stress management.

Who benefits

The 23 employees comprise an outdoor vineyard team, an indoor wine-making team and office staff including sales, management and accounts. Everyone receives a print-out of their health check, so it's possible to benchmark personal health against accepted medical standards and track improvements over time.

This has been particularly well received, inspiring staff to exercise and manage their eating habits and stress levels. It also highlights areas where individuals need to improve their general health by, for example, stopping smoking or losing weight. The scheme is low-cost and also time-efficient. The health checks only take five minutes per person, and the half-hour talks barely affect the working day.

What it delivers

The scheme is designed to help staff take responsibility for their own health and, because it's not dictatorial, it does facilitate a useful framework for adopting a healthier lifestyle at no cost to employees.

Every member of staff has embraced the opportunity to self-test using the kiosk, and the health talks have been very well attended. Management says it has not deliberately set out to improve productivity rates or reduce sickness absence and retention levels, but hopes the goodwill generated among staff, and a sense of contentment at work, will easily deliver return on investment. Chapel Down is now seen as an employer of choice and has generated high-profile publicity for itself.


Frazer Thompson, managing director of Chapel Down, maintains that only a happy, healthy team can fuel ongoing success at the company. "We've won awards and we're doing well, but we can't afford to let complacency creep in," he says. "The business will survive or die by the quality of its people, and that means bright, energetic individuals with passion and fizz to match that of our product." Thompson feels it is important not to 'nanny' staff or criticise lifestyles. But at the same time he is very pleased to offer help on health issues if it is desired. The feedback reports provided by Water Wellpoint based on discussions during the talks and use of the kiosk allows the company to track the progress of overall employee health trends and plan future initiatives. "As a brand development exercise for building employee engagement and external perceptions of the company, the cost is peanuts," says Thompson. "Ultimately it sends out a very positive message about the kind of company we are."


Sarah Bridger, accounts manager at Chapel Down, feels those in the more sedentary desk-bound jobs probably have the most to gain from the programme. "I sit at my computer all day and don't have a healthy lifestyle outside work. But since the scheme was introduced it's made us all think about how we could improve," she says. Bridger feels the experience has got the whole company talking about wellbeing and thinking of ways to be healthier. Bridger recently gave up chocolate, is watching her weight and walks the vineyard dog in her lunch hour. She also does desk-side exercises and breathing exercises at times of stress. "The health kiosk was a reality check for me," she says. "It's very revealing and has prompted me to take action. The next stage will be giving up smoking. The day last November when the scheme was launched was great fun, and everyone feels that being allowed a few hours every quarter to focus on our personal health is really valuable. This is the ideal way for management to show us their appreciation and support."