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Short-term wellbeing initiatives can have long-term effect

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Company heads looking to boost employee wellbeing are advised to look at short-term benefits that can have a long-lasting effect.

The HR Index found that firms that had invested in health and wellbeing during the first half of 2012 – just before the start of the London Olympics – have seen a positive effect well into 2013 because of the initial support they gave employees.

This is good news for staff members in shared offices who take advantage of company initiatives that are prompted by national health events – such as National Heart Month or No Smoking Day, which take place every February and March respectively.

And in terms of an employer’s role in the long-term success of these, helping staff to overcome their vices does not necessarily require endless commitment – rather the approach needs to be intensive and supportive in the early stages.

Benjamin Gardner, lecturer in health psychology at the Health Behaviour Research Centre at University College London, said the workplace can be an ideal location to implement a more positive approach to health and wellbeing among staff.

“The intervention itself might only be short-term, but hopefully it will have long-term effects because you have tried to promote habits rather than just the change in behaviour,” he noted.

It’s not that employees need to be told to go to the gym for 16 weeks – that is not sustainable – it is more about subtle changes that can easily be incorporated into everyday life.

Even just encouraging office workers who are typically sedentary for most of the day to move about more can have a huge effect – so long as employees are interested in making lifestyle changes that will boost their overall health.

In terms of employers, the benefits they get from investing in staff health and wellbeing are profound. Fewer days and finances are lost due to illness and productivity is also enhanced, Employee Benefits reports.