Ethical capitalism: the revolutionary Victorian business owners that put wellbeing at the heart of their business

Physical wellbeing

Wojciech Dochan

June 3, 2024

Did you know that lost productivity costs the UK £100bn annually?  

That's the staggering cost of ignoring employee wellbeing, according to recent studies. 

In a world where business success is often measured solely by the bottom line, it's easy to overlook the invaluable asset staring us right in the face: our employees

Read on to learn how putting people first can lead to success that goes beyond the balance sheet.

Embracing our heritage: The legacy of employee wellbeing

As an employer, you may be sceptical about the buzz surrounding employee wellbeing. 

After all, isn't it just another passing fad? 

Think again. 

Employee wellbeing isn't a trend; it's part of our cultural DNA, woven into the fabric of our British heritage. 

From the smoky streets of Victorian England emerged visionaries who understood that the key to a successful business lay not just in profits, but in the health and happiness of their workforce.

The Cadbury’s: Pioneers of progressive policies

When we think of Cadburys, we often conjure images of mouth-watering chocolate.

But these iconic brands were more than just purveyors of confectionery delights - they were champions of employee wellbeing. 

Instead of building their factory amongst the smog of Birmingham, they chose to build it in the countryside where the air was cleaner. 

Inspired by their Christian Quaker beliefs, they envisioned a “factory in a garden”, where everyone - including their workers - could enjoy a good life. As George Cadbury commented: 

"If each man could have his own house, a large garden to cultivate and healthy surroundings - then, I thought, there will be for them a better opportunity of a happy family life."

By 1879, their vision was a reality and they renamed the village of Bourn, Bournville. By 1902, Cadbury’s welfare programme had grown significantly. 30% of Cadbury’s capital expenditure was spent on workers’ wellbeing. 

Employees enjoyed a variety of physical welfare benefits, such as access to football, swimming, tennis and squash facilities. 

Their philanthropy extended to their workers’ families. Children were given access to summer camps, playgrounds and trips to the countryside.

They also understood the importance of socio-emotional wellbeing. Workers were also granted a half-day off on a Saturday to enjoy with their families - at a time when workers were normally only given time off for religious observance. 

When it came to employee wellbeing, Cadburys were pioneers. They recognised that healthy, happy workers led to better business outcomes. 

The business case for employee wellbeing initiatives

Still not convinced of the value of employee wellbeing initiatives? 

Consider this: numerous studies including from the University of Oxford, Forbes and Harvard Business Review have shown that happy and healthy employees are more productive, engaged, and loyal. 

Look at some of these statistics that we’ve uncovered:

  • Happy workers are 13% more productive. 
  • 89% of workers at companies that support wellbeing initiatives are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work.
  • 61% of employees agree that they have made healthier lifestyle choices because of their company’s wellness programme.

By prioritising employee wellbeing, you're not just improving the lives of your workforce - you're also boosting your bottom line. 

From reduced absenteeism to higher retention rates, the benefits of investing in employee health and wellbeing are undeniable.

Creating an employee wellbeing programme: Where to start

So, how can you, as an employer, prioritise employee wellbeing within your organisation? 

It all starts with a comprehensive employee wellbeing programme. 

This isn't just about offering yoga classes or fruit baskets (although those are nice perks). 

It's about creating a culture that values and supports the physical, mental, and emotional health of your employees.

At Bravo Benefits, we understand that creating an effective employee wellbeing programme requires careful planning and consideration. 

Here are 5 steps to help you get started:

Step 1: Audit your existing wellbeing programme

You may already have some wellbeing initiatives in place. Begin by auditing your existing programme so that you can figure out where the gaps might be. 

If you’re not sure where to begin, download our Workplace Wellness Guide. In it, you will find a step-by-step process to identifying your strategy’s strengths and weaknesses.

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If you would like to find out more about our solutions, get in touch.

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Step 2: Conduct comprehensive employee surveys

Make sure you understand the specific needs and challenges facing your workforce. Conduct employee surveys and get valuable insights into areas where your employees feel they may need support.

Step 3: Tailor your programme to address specific needs

Once you have identified the key areas of concern, develop a programme that addresses those needs directly. This might include offering a health screening programme. 

This service ensures that all your employees receive an overview of their general health, and helps to identify potential risks or areas for improvement. 

Our health screening service includes:

  • A body mass index test, 
  • A blood pressure test, 
  • A bone mass test, 
  • A blood glucose test,
  • A cholesterol test, 
  • It also includes a lifestyle analysis and recommendations that can help your team make informed positive changes.

Step 3: Offer flexible working arrangements

Recognise that one size does not fit all when it comes to employee wellbeing. Offer flexible working arrangements, such as remote work options or flexible hours, to accommodate the diverse needs of your workforce.

Step 4: Provide access to healthcare benefits

Ensure that your employees have access to comprehensive healthcare benefits, including medical, and vision coverage. Consider offering additional wellness benefits, such as gym memberships to support overall health and wellbeing.

Step 5: Foster a culture of support

Create a workplace culture that values and prioritises employee wellbeing. Encourage open communication, provide opportunities for feedback and collaboration, and recognise and reward employees who contribute to a positive and supportive work environment.

Why not talk to us today and find out how we can create an inclusive package, personalised to suit your employees and your organisation? 

Prioritise employee wellbeing for sustainable success

The staggering £100 billion annual cost of lost productivity in the UK underscores the critical importance of prioritising employee wellbeing. 

Beyond mere profitability, investing in the health and happiness of our workforce is a fundamental aspect of ethical capitalism. 

Let's embrace our heritage and create workplaces where success is measured not just by the bottom line, but by the wellbeing of those who drive it forward.

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