People & Organizations

How The World’s Leading Companies Are Boosting Their Workers’ Wellbeing

January 18th, 2018


Business leaders are waking up to the fact that there’s a direct link between having physically and mentally healthy staff – and engagement and productivity.

To see the best results, employee wellbeing must be approached holistically – addressing both mental and physical health, social stimulation and levels of engagement – all the way up to giving their employees confidence about their financial wellbeing.

With health care costs rising – for both employers and employees alike – more and more companies are prioritizing wellbeing programs. From generous parental leave to “wellness weeks,” some of the world’s top brands like Apple and Microsoft could offer ideas for other business leaders looking to implement their own programs.


In Depth

“Retaining top talent, driving higher levels of engagement, better customer satisfaction, more sales, better quality output – all of these things drive business success,” says Robin Bouvier, Vice President, Innovation and Health Transformation, Aon Health & Benefits.

Here, we look at some of the world’s leading companies and what they’ve done to try and encourage a holistic approach to wellness.

Wellbeing: A Top Priority For World-Class Firms

Some of the world’s top brands have implemented innovative and progressive approaches to employee wellbeing:

  • Apple, which ranked first in the survey, has a medical practice for employees at its headquarters in Cupertino. Along with a generous parental leave policy, Apple puts a high priority on employee education, offering reimbursements for classes taken by employees, and subsidizing student loans.
  • Google, ranked second on the same survey, has a renowned wellness-centered campus at its head offices in California, which includes on-site gyms, free exercise classes, and in-office massages. It also promotes intra-staff skills swaps, with its Googler-to-Googler learning program.
  • Microsoft, which ranked third in the survey, has set up a dedicated, on-site “Microsoft Living Wellness Health Center,” where employees can get access to free health screenings and flu shots, eye care, dieting advice and wellness coaching. Every six months, the company also runs a wellness week, which works to highlight potential health issues for its employees.
  • Samsung, which ranked sixth, offers employees a free mortgage advice service and a workplace individual savings account (ISA). In the U.K alone, no-fee mortgages worth £7.5 million ($10 million) were delivered for employees. Samsung also puts an emphasis on the physical wellness of its employees, with flexible gym membership programs.

Learning From Leading Companies

Learning from best-in-class firms can point the way forwards for employers to create happier, healthier and, ultimately, more productive workforces. Here are some of the best practices that other businesses can introduce to their workplaces.

Increasing The Priority Of Workplace Wellbeing

Attention to workplace wellbeing is on the rise, with wellness initiatives being commonly reported as a method for mitigating the increase in the cost of medical plans by 71 percent of countries responding to Aon’s 2018 Global Medical Trend Rates report. Corporate wellness is now estimated to be a $43 billion market globally – although it should be noted that the proportion of the world’s workforce that currently enjoys access to workplace wellness programs is still less than 10 percent.

Stephanie Pronk, Senior Vice President of Health Transformation, Aon, highlights the role of workplaces in providing frontline wellbeing services: “Whereas it may be true that work and the work environment can generate stress and emotional health concerns for workers, it also seems that the workplace can have a positive effect when emotional fitness becomes a focal point to bring about positive impacts.”

With more and more time spent at work, employers are ideally placed to help address wellbeing needs right there in the physical space of the office.

For example, studies have found that employees who work at standing desks can find their productivity boosted by as much as 46 percent. And moving a printer unit to a distant corner of the office can encourage exercise. “How you create the space within the work environment becomes really important,” says Pronk.

The Business Case For Investing In Mental Health

It is estimated that depression and anxiety conditions cost the global economy $1 trillion every year, making psychological wellbeing an increasing priority. The good news is that investing in mental wellness programs sees a strong return on investment. The World Health Organization estimates that for every dollar invested in the treatment of depression and anxiety, there is a $4 return on investment.






Improving Health To Impact The Bottom Line

When a company finds itself in a productivity rut, engagement is often at the heart of the issue. Improve engagement, and you’re on the right path to improving productivity. According to Aon’s 2017 Trends in Global Employee Engagement report, a five point increase in employee engagement is linked to a three point increase in revenue growth in the subsequent year.

One of the best ways of activating this engagement is by looking out for employee wellbeing. Among other things, employees who feel they are being cared for are 38 percent more engaged than their peers.

As global labor markets get more and more competitive, health care costs continue to rise, and productivity levels continue to waver, building a workplace that can attract, retain and nurture talent will be critical to creating a business that can succeed.

“The payoff is more satisfied and engaged employees, and that’s good for the health of the business,” says Pronk.


Talking Points

“Due to the stigma and unease around mental health, there is a risk that even well-meaning managers will avoid or mismanage mental health issues. It is essential to equip people managers with the skills they need to identify, discuss and effectively deal with any problems employees may have” – Sally Wilson, Senior Research Fellow, Institute For Employment Studies

“Some organizations still make the mistake of saying to senior management that wellbeing is a ‘nice thing to have’ or ‘we need to do it because our competitors do,’ which tends to limit management’s perception of the issue to a purely health one” – Alistair Dornan, Head of Health Management, Capita Employee Benefits

Further Reading

Meet The Company Leading The Corporate Wellness Revolution – Metro, August 7, 2017

71 Percent Of Employers See Wellbeing As A Driver Of Workplace Culture – Employee Benefits, January 8, 2018

Creating A Corporate Wellness Brand That Works For Your Company – Huffpost, December 6, 2017

Seven Corporate Wellness Trends For 2018 – And Beyond – TechTarget, January 2018

A Bad Work Environment Can Be Bad For Your Health – August 22, 2017