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Punter Southall uses wearable tech to monitor employee health and wellbeing

Wellness is coming to your business whether you like it or not. This was the stark message from PSHPC managing director John Dean last night.

Speaking at the launch of the latest addition to the Havensrock brand, Dean said employer-led health and wellness is high on the political agenda at a time when the NHS is a key battleground of the 2015 UK general election.

“It doesn’t matter which way you vote, there is cross-party political agreement on bringing wellness into the workplace,” he told employers.

The Office for National Statistics’ bulletin on UK productivity, published earlier this month, said the absence of productivity growth since 2007 is “unprecedented in the post-war period”, while the latest Aviva Health of the Workforce Report found 69% of employers said their employees’ health and wellbeing has a direct effect on productivity.

Dean said HR directors realise the benefits of a wellness strategy, but the traditional employee benefits approach tends to focus on illness rather than prevention and overall wellbeing.

“Benefits are packaged in a way the financial director can understand. It is not easy to ‘package’ wellness,” he said.

Dean explained the new Havensrock income protection scheme has been launched to help overcome this. As well as offering the typical group income protection benefit of providing help if an employee becomes too ill to work, the proposition is based on improving workplace health.

“Employees don’t need to be ill to use it,” Dean said. “On average one person per 1,000 people dies while at work while one in 300 uses income protection. HR directors’ spend focuses on the small minority of employees that are ill and, across a typical workforce, only a few ever need to use income protection, so it remains largely unappreciated by the rest. This scheme enables all staff to benefit.”

Employees receive a Fitbug Orb movement and sleep tracker, which collects step, sleep and calorie data and comes with multiple wearable devices. A Wellbeing People interactive health kiosk in the office (pictured) provides an annual health screen, which records general health indicators such as body mass index, body fat index, blood pressure and hydration. An online portal enables employees to tailor wellbeing challenges to suit their goals, combining the data from the Fitbug and health kiosk to track progress. For anyone who is diagnosed with a serious illness, RedArc provides the support of its dedicated nurse advisers.

PSHPC will create an annual wellness report for the business, built from aggregated, anonymous data from the devices.

“By using this data employers can build a wellness programme that specifically works for their business,” said Dean, stressing that it is a voluntary scheme and no personal data is shared. “This is a big leap change in the way income protection is provided.”

HR magazine is holding a live HR Lunchtime Debate broadcast on building the business case for wellbeing on 24 June 2015 in conjunction with Unum. The debate will explore why wellbeing often isn't viewed as a boardroom issue and features Matt Freeland, senior HR director (European Snacks Category Supply Chain) at PepsiCo, Stephen Bevan, director of the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness at The Work Foundation, Anthony Douglas, CEO at Cafcass and Joanne Abate, assistant VP global health management at Unum. To register, click here