What is Wellbeing profile (health risk assessment)?
Put simply,wellbeing profiles are an organisation-wide strategy that addresses health risk factors that are amenable to change. No organisation can change a person’s age or medical history, but it can advise people on factors such as diet and nutrition, smoking, drinking, fitness and exercise, and so on. A health risk programme can also cover specific workplace concerns such as back pain and RSI (repetitive strain injury).
The aim is to provide employees with valuable information about their health status, and help empower those at risk to make lifestyle changes. The employer gains key indicators of patterns of risk throughout an organisation that could adversely be affecting business performance.
Note that medical screening is a different topic. Initiatives such as pre-employment health screening and provision of mobile screening facilities (such as for TB) are traditionally covered by the occupation health service. However, such screening services can be used as a part of a health risk assessment programme where appropriate – key measures being blood pressure and cholesterol checks that are carried out after personnel have completed questionnaires about their lifestyle risks.
Isn’t this health promotion?
Wellbeing profiles (health risk assessment) does include much of the ideas normally associated with workplace health promotion. Traditionally, heath promotion in this setting has tended to focus on providing education and facilities to help employees choose more healthy alternatives. Activities have involved setting up health fairs, running exercise and relaxation classes, encouraging cycling to work and so on. Many people will recall the Look After Your Heart programme as a classic workplace health promotion imitative.
However, wellbeing profiles are much more structured way of linking health promotion with business performance, and has the following functions:
- Engages the widest possible population in an organisation – not just those who may turn up to a health fair.
- Provides a comprehensive health questionnaire that covers all key health and wellbeing criteria
- Provides programmes to help people address risk factors – risk assessment is also about taking action
- Gives management in-depth organisational profiles of areas of concern, while maintaining staff confidentiality.
To paraphrase the title of an NHS publication on the topic, this is much more than ‘brown bread and aerobics’.
Opportunities and obstacles
Workplace health risk assessment has the potential directly to address key areas of concern about costs and productivity. It should be on the agenda of any organisation that is serious about increasing shareholder (or ‘stakeholder’) value and reducing exposure to risk, such as long- and short-term sickness absence, litigation and accidents.
A key selling point is that wellbeing profile (health risk assessment) is a straightforward and relatively inexpensive way of providing a workplace health intervention. If administered by independent consultants – crucial for getting staff buy in – a simple questionnaire-based approach, backed up with a communications package, can rapidly produce high quality results. Managers must, however, be prepared to act on results and provide, for example, cholesterol tests, fitness programmes and so on to address patterns identified.
A particularly strong factor is that a health programme demonstrates a caring approach by the employer and is likely to be an important differentiator in the benefits package. With visits to GPs becoming more difficult to arrange, busy people will appreciate the extra input. It also helps promote better industrial relations. In addition, organisations can enter various regional health at work award schemes.
Health risk assessment can also be dovetailed with complementary programmes such as stress/pressure audit and counselling-based employee assistance programmes (EAPs), and indeed can be a cornerstone of a fully-fledged EAP.
One objection is that no matter how well designed the communications programme, some people will not participate. However, participation rates of over 70% are typical – far more than traditional health promotion initiatives – and more than enough to develop high quality organisational data, and of course provide interventions that benefit all staff.
We have been designing and implementing Wellbeing profiles since 2003.
Wellbeing profiles are a valuable tool when designing an organisational strategy as they provide a snapshot of the wellbeing within a set population and detail, both health risk and health intentions. They also provide valuable feedback on current services.
Our profiles take a few minutes to complete, are confidential and can be deployed across the whole organisation or targeted groups. Upon completion a detailed organisational report is produced.
Our wellbeing profiles
Option 1 – The Health Assessor
The health assessor is a comprehensive health risk appraisal programme that provides individuals with an online report. See //www.wellbeingtracker.co.uk/login/redirect/home#filter=core
Option 2 – Bespoke profiles
Our bespoke profiles are built to fit each organisation. We have a large question bank to draw from and will work with you to design and operate a comprehensive employee wellbeing profile.
For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org