Healthy and productive workforces

Employee wellbeing as the bedrock of better business

1. Deepen the social impact of our products and services.

  • Scale our businesses to achieve greater impact.

3. Leverage our capacity to support resilient ecosystems.

  • Support national objectives to enhance market sustainability.
  • Reduce the cost of healthcare and the burden on public healthcare infrastructure.

Assisting our clients to broaden access to healthcare and wellbeing

Discovery launched Healthy Company in August 2018 as a comprehensive digitally-enabled employee assistance programme and wellness solution. Healthy Company identifies and proactively supports both at-risk employees and those that are well with a personalised solution, provided throughout their work and life journey.

This offering also provides employers with a proactive corporate wellness solution to support their employees on their wellness journey. A strong emphasis on preventive measures, early health and wellness screenings gives employees information on their wellness status across three key dimensions of wellbeing – physical, emotional and financial wellbeing. In addition, Healthy Company helps employers understand the overall health profile of their workforce and where to focus health and wellness initiatives.

Healthy Company can empower employers with unparalleled insights into their employees’ health risks, their progress in managing these risks, as well as feedback on related interventions. This is done by seamlessly integrating data collected from all health and wellness services, including claims, health screenings and other related interventions. Further, Healthy Company has invested in tools such as the Absenteeism Index for employers to understand the impact of unwell employees on work attendance and productivity.

A year after its launch, Healthy Company is adding significant value to clients and growing rapidly, currently looking after just over 27 000 employees in South Africa.

The Healthy Company app leverages technology to provide employees with easy access to all the tools, assessments, educational content and guidance an employee might need when navigating life’s challenges. In addition, should an employee need to speak to a counsellor for more personalised assistance, they can simply use the Healthy Company in-app chat function to easily chat to a counselling coach.

In a country where access to quality private healthcare is limited and the majority of the population relies on an over-extended public health system, Discovery recognises the need and importance to find solutions to extend access to quality healthcare to more people at an affordable price. Discovery Primary Care is a unique healthcare product that enables employers to provide their employees and their families with affordable quality private healthcare and wellness management. Considering the strong interest shown by employers and the rapid growth to just over 45 000 lives in three years, it is evident that Discovery Primary Care Health is meeting an important business and social need.

Discovery Health is also an administrator of closed medical schemes where we have a direct impact by extending healthcare insurance to large employer groups, so supporting members across all income levels. We are the medical scheme administrator for LA Health, a closed medical scheme for local government employees in South Africa with over 200 000 beneficiaries.

In the United Kingdom (UK), VitalityHealth partnered with Nuffield Health in September 2017 to launch a new proposition that provides large employers with a stand-alone health and engagement solution for their entire workforce. The Vitality Healthy Workplace offering takes a holistic approach to employee health, providing a range of tools to help employers understand the physical and mental wellbeing needs of their employees to drive improvement.

This has an important social benefit as a paradox exists in the UK market where lower-earning employees are typically not provided health and wellbeing benefits, despite the fact that they are the ones most likely to be making poor health and lifestyle choices. By taking a whole-of-workforce view, Healthy Workplace aims to support all employees across a company, regardless of seniority within the business and socio-economic status, by providing access to the tools and incentives needed to make healthier decisions.

Research* shows a clear link between employees’ lifestyle and clinical health, their mental wellbeing, and their levels of lost productivity - through both absenteeism and presenteeism - while at work. Vitality Healthy Workplace works to improve productivity and boost the performance of businesses by combining VitalityHealth’s expertise in using incentives and rewards to drive healthier behaviours with Nuffield Health’s extensive range of health facilities, expertise and knowledge.

* Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, funded and developed by Vitality UK, is one of the largest employee health and wellbeing surveys in the UK. More details can be found in ‘Our stories’ below.

“Enabling workers at all levels in an organisation to be healthy, both mentally and physically, and to have a sense of wellbeing, is essential to achieving employee engagement and increased productivity. Vitality Healthy Workplace has the potential to benefit the employee and their family, the employer, and the community.”

Professor Dame Carol Black, Chair of Vitality Healthy Workplace and an expert in workplace health

In addition, VitalityHealth has recently launched Vitality Essentials, which extends the Vitality Wellness programme on a stand-alone basis to medically uninsured employees in companies that have insured their management team with VitalityHealth. Providing cost-effective solutions is key to overcome the barrier to entry for SMEs to participate in wellness initiatives.

Given the well-publicised funding challenges in the National Health Service (NHS), we believe that Vitality is more relevant than ever in promoting positive behavioural change that has a measurable impact on health outcomes. It also represents a shift from healthcare that is focused on illness to healthcare focused on wellbeing, incentivised through the right behaviours to achieve the greatest impact.

We are all prone to behavioural and cognitive biases that mean we don’t always act in our own best interest. Even with access to useful and scientifically sound information on health and wellbeing, we still make choices that lead to poor health, resulting in over-consuming sickness care (where the benefits are seen to be immediate) and under-consuming wellness (where the benefits are long-term and often unnoticed as they are defined by the absence or infrequency of ill health). In short, we focus more on an incident of illness and recovery, rather than a lifetime of healthy behaviours that keep us well.

At Vitality, we call it the health and wellness imbalance. Vitality specifically works to counter our biases through active incentives and rewards that shift behaviour to achieve long-term benefits, at both an individual and collective level.

Our Vitality Health at Work team assists our clients to drive greater awareness and participation in health and wellbeing initiatives with employees.

The Health at Work team then provides training, including workshops bringing together the Champs from different organisations to share their learnings and best practice. We currently have 76 Champs participating, who are key to extending the network of health and wellbeing interventions.

Our Performance Champs initiative targets senior and executive management clients, and is being run by Maggie Alphonsi who captained the England World Cup winning rugby team. Maggie’s team of sports stars (all of whom have excelled in their field) engage with business leaders to coach them on the links between lifestyle, physiology and work performance.

Embedding health and wellness into our place of work

Our employees' wellbeing is vital to our success as a company, and we believe this also contributes to healthier and happier families and communities beyond the office. We support employee wellbeing by creating awareness and giving them the tools to take decisions that will improve their health and wellness, raising the health profile of our whole organisation.

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In August 2018, Discovery rolled out Healthy Company to our own workforce. We take a proactive approach to managing each employee's personal risk profile with a view to achieve organisational and individual impact, led by data-driven insights that drive refinements to our programmes internally and with our clients.

In strengthening our focus on holistic employee wellbeing, we have expanded our employee wellness strategy, with Healthy Company services available to employees, their immediate families and those who are financially dependent on them.

In last year’s report, we provided details on how our move to 1 Discovery Place presented a unique opportunity to further embed health and wellness in our place of work. On this campus, employees have access to an on-site general practitioner, nurse, dentist, chiropractor and physiotherapist at the Wellness Clinic.

We have also shifted to using a semi in-house provider for our on-site wellness centres and all employees in all regions have access to Healthy Company services and an on-site doctor. We have introduced member-based research ratings to ensure that employees continue to receive world class services at our onsite clinics.

We also ran a series of internal health-focused campaigns to increase the number Discovery employees registered on Vitality, achieving 75% of permanent employees with Vitality membership in June 2019. All permanent employees at Discovery enjoy a discount on the Vitality programme, and we continue to refine the Healthy Company benefit to ensure Discovery staff also benefit from our world-leading insights into wellbeing.

Discovery’s Vitality Age is an assessment of a person’s health relative to their actual age, measured through an online assessment that considers a range of clinical health indicators. Tracking the Vitality Age of employees who have completed the Vitality Age assessment gives us a deeper understanding of our progress in supporting wellbeing. The percentage of our employees with a Vitality Age lower than or at their actual age is 29.4%, which has shown an increase of 5% last year.

In the UK, Vitality participates in the Britain's Healthiest Workplace survey it established (more details in ‘Our stories’ below). In the 2017 survey, in line with most other participating companies, 72% of employees reported that they were experiencing mental health issues and financial stress. In response, we launched year-round targeted initiatives to promote physical wellbeing with initiatives to foster mental and financial wellbeing for all staff.

We have trained over 70 mental health champions at Vitality who perform a triage role, recognising  signs of mental health distress and facilitating access to formal interventions offered by mental health professionals. We are also providing mental health awareness training to all managers.

We have partnered with Salary Finance, which has won global awards for its socially responsible approach to debt consolidation and management, to support employees experiencing financial difficulties. They provide debt consolidation services,  low-interest loans and  tools and guidance on financial management . We also ran a financial wellbeing campaign over July and August, with ‘lunch and learn’ sessions to help employees understand and better manage their finances.

2018 commitments and progress

2018 commitment

  • We’ll prioritise our employees’ health.

  • We’ll clarify the link between workplace health and productivity.

Our progress in 2019

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