Employee Engagement

Help SME clients kick-start their workplace wellness programme

It’s approaching the end of January and, chances are, those health and fitness resolutions made so optimistically at the start of the month are beginning to seem more challenging as willpower wanes.

According to a study from the University of Scranton in the US, 77% of people stuck with their resolutions for the first week of January; 55% made it through the first month; but by June, only 40% were sticking with their goal1. So, with the statistics stacked against your SME clients, what can employers do to keep good intentions going in the office?


A workplace wellness programme will support staff wellbeing and offer insurance in times of illness, but with Vitality an employer can offer much more. As well as providing comprehensive cover in times of poor health, Vitality encourages healthy lifestyle choices to reduce the risk of illness. Our new Active Rewards encourage people to engage with their wellbeing, providing benefits and incentives for regular activity. The result: employees who are most engaged with Vitality are healthier than those who are less engaged, and they can save money at the same time.(2)


The success or failure of employees’ New Year resolutions has a direct impact on their performance at work. Any failure – whether it’s not going for a run or failing to achieve a sales target – makes goals seem tougher to achieve, our abilities appear weaker, damages motivation, makes us risk-averse and restricts creative thinking, says psychologist Professor Guy Winch (3). Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and associate professor at Harvard Business School, says that failing to achieve our goals leads to feelings of anxiety and lower self-worth that can impact on our performance at work.

“People are making absolute statements about what they’re going to do and that’s setting them up for failure immediately because they’re not always going to go to the gym three times a week.”(4) Instead, Amy advocates ‘self-nudging’ – setting a series of small goals rather than larger ones.

Vitality is changing the world of insurance by using similar behavioural economics to incentivise and reward members for getting healthier. The result is a boost in employees’ wellness – the employees most engaged with Vitality are effectively 2.6 years ‘younger’ than the least engaged employees, according to a study of SME employee engagement with Vitality.


Vitality is a 24/7, 365-day route to a fitter, healthier, happier workforce. But its standout features may be particularly relevant to your SME clients at this time of year, in order to reboot their New Year’s resolutions. Vitality doesn’t just benefit an SME’s existing staff, either. It can help attract the best new recruits by providing a package of protection, rewards and benefits that compares with the wellness programmes of larger companies.


Vitality members receive discounts of up to 50% on various health screens with Vitality Partners including BMI Healthcare, Nuffield Health and Bluecrest. Employees can engage with their health the instant they join Vitality, by visiting the Vitality Member Zone and filling in the online Health Review and finding out their Vitality Age.


Vitality is giving members even more ways to track their activity and earn Vitality points, so earning points isn’t dependent on going to the gym. As well as Moves (a free mobile app for iOS and Android phones), we have introduced Garmin as a new Partner. Members will receive 50% off selected Garmin activity-tracking devices, including Garmin Swim. There is also a 50% discount on a Polar Heart Rate Monitor, Sensor or Cycling Computer and a discount on Fitbug activity trackers.


Members can get a 50% discount on flexible, individual monthly membership at Virgin Active Health Clubs*. A joining fee will apply. As well as use of the gym, members can access all the available facilities of these health clubs.


Members can unlock weekly treats for themselves by getting active every week. Members earning nine Vitality points in a week will be rewarded with a handcrafted drink from Starbucks, plus cinema tickets from Cineworld or Vue (from July 2015).


Vitality is able to provide posters and health information for your SME clients to engage their employees with their wellbeing programme,as well as the twice-yearly Vitality magazine and monthly e-newsletter with lots of ideas for making health and fitness part of everyday life. You might also suggest these ideas to help motivate and inspire your SME clients to get more Vitality in the workplace…

Encourage staff to do their online free Health Review to get their Vitality Age, a useful indicator of their overall health and a benchmark over time

  • Start a running club and organise weekly training sessions
  • Offer healthy food alternatives in canteens and vending machines
  • Use newsletters, emails and Intranet to promote healthy lifestyle initiatives. You can link to some great content on the Vitality blog
  • Link fitness events with a charity supported by the SME – e.g. marathon training and fundraising
  • Organise Wellness Days, providing an opportunity to learn about different ways to keep fit and healthy, share inspiration on healthy eating, and have a health check
  • Create weight-loss and stop-smoking support groups
  • Promote a Ride to Work scheme, linked to cashback on bikes from Vitality Partner Evans Cycles
  • Provide a table-tennis table and table football to make lunch breaks more fun and active
  • Set up staff sports tournaments or clubs, such as five-a-side football and softball
  • Keep dancing with Strictly-inspired ballroom lessons for employees
  • Teach mindfulness and stress-reduction techniques.


Vitality can help with more than employees’ fitness resolutions. With our Vitality Partners, your clients can lose weight for less with Weight Watchers and give up smoking for free with Allen Carr’s Easyway To Stop Smoking programme.

* Flexible individual monthly membership. Joining fees are up to £50 for all clubs other than Classic Collection clubs, where joining fees are up to £150. This offer does not apply to the Chiswick Riverside Virgin Active club.


  1. ‘Auld Lang Syne: Success Predictors, Change Processes, and Self-Reported Outcomes of New Year’s Resolvers and Nonresolvers’, John C Norcross, Marci S Mrykalo and Matthew D Blagys, University of Scranton http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jclp.1151/pdf
  2. Survey of SME employees engaged with Vitality: the most engaged are 3.8 times less likely to have a Vitality Age that’s 3+ years more than their actual age, compared to the least engaged.
  3. ‘The Essential Guide for Recovering from Failure’, Guy Winch PhD, Psychology Today, July 16 2013 http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201307/the-essential-guide-recovering-failure‘
  4. There’s a good chance your New Year’s Resolution will do more harm than good’, Business Insider UK, December 26 2014 http://uk.businessinsider.com/amy-cuddy-psychology-new-years-resolutions-2014-12?r=US#ixzz3NPBsds3f
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