By Daniel Hunter

The search for the UK's healthiest company has been launched by health insurance firm VitalityHealth and consulting firm Mercer.

Britain’s Healthiest Company 2015 aims to find and celebrate the country’s most outstanding organisations demonstrating best practice and innovative approaches to looking after the health and wellbeing of their staff.

Britain’s Healthiest Company, the largest national study in the UK, gives employers valuable insights into the wellbeing of their workers and celebrates those companies supporting health in the workplace. Companies with at least 50 employees are invited sign up to participate in the survey which will comprehensively evaluate the effectiveness of workplace wellness programmes and the health of the workforce.

The study analyses lifestyle, behavioural and clinical risk factors including weight, diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol intake, stress, cholesterol and blood glucose levels, blood pressure as well as how often people attend health screenings to monitor and understand their health.

Neville Koopowitz, chief executive of VitalityHealth, said: “The pervasive effect our lifestyles have not only on our own health, but that of the economy as well, is startling. When we calculated the Vitality Age of the respondents to the 2014 survey, it was almost four years older than the real age. Our workforce is, in effect, four years older than it should be. This has a dramatic impact on productivity.

“As this is the third time we have conducted the survey the results will be particularly interesting as it will start to show us a direction of travel for employee health.”

Sick leave

Last year's survey found that sick leave and presenteeism (working while unwell) costs companies, on average, 7.7% of their yearly wage bill. This translated into an estimated total cost of lost productivity to the UK economy of over £58 billion per year.

The report signalled a stark warning of a dormant health time bomb, with nearly two thirds (62%) of employees having at least two bad lifestyle choices that put them at serious risk of future ill health. The findings highlight the strong link between these lifestyle risk factors, employees’ health and their performance at work, looking at areas such as: absenteeism, productivity, engagement, and presenteeism. It found that employers are typically left to pick up the bill as unhealthy staff take more time off sick and under-perform at work.

Chris Bailey, Head of Corporate Consulting for Employee Health and Benefits at Mercer, said: “The results from the last two years of Britain’s Healthiest Company suggest that organisations investing in the health of their employees are rewarded with a competitive advantage. The data shows that, of the 2014 participants of Britain’s Healthiest Company, the top 20% healthiest companies had 37% less ‘lost productivity’ than the survey average. This should place wellness firmly on the agenda of boardrooms nationally."

Join us on
Follow @freshbusiness