Gunnell’s health tips for employers

Taking a proactive approach to employee wellbeing can help employers to boost performance and productivity, according to former 400m hurdles Olympic champion Sally Gunnell.

Speaking in the session titled Why using wellbeing strategies makes a healthy impact on workforce productivity, Gunnell explained: "If organisations wait until people are injured or become ill, that’s when they lose productivity."

Gunnell recommended providing access to healthy foods in the workplace and introducing alternative therapies, such as massage and yoga, to help employees deal with stress. But she emphasised that simply introducing initiatives was not enough, and employers should support their employees in improving their wellbeing. "It’s about giving incentives and setting a challenge. It’s not just about providing gym membership, but rather about organisations being supportive," she said.

This could include providing shower facilities for staff who wish to cycle to work or exercise during their lunch hour, and encouraging employees to form social sporting groups such as a running club.

Looking after employee wellbeing can also help to enhance an organisation’s reputation, as potential recruits are often more likely to want to work for an employer they perceive to have a caring attitude towards staff.