Healthy and productive workforces

1 Discovery Place presents a unique opportunity to further embed health and wellness into our place of work


A healthy and productive workforce is about people and their wellbeing. People spend most of their lives working and their physical, mental and financial health can directly impact the quality of their performance. Healthier workplaces not only help retain top talent, especially among the health-conscious millennial generation, but evidence points to greater productivity and better job performance.

Our employees' wellbeing is a vital part of our success as a company, and we believe this contributes to healthier and happier families and communities beyond the office. We enable the wellbeing of our employees by creating awareness and giving them the tools to take decisions that will improve their wellness. By encouraging positive behaviour, the health profile of our whole workforce can go from strength to strength.

Discovery's move to 1 Discovery Place, in Sandton, Johannesburg, was informed by a vision to create a workplace which gives practical expression to our values. Our new headquarters present a unique opportunity to further embed health and wellness into our place of work. With a circular running track on the roof, showers for those who jog or cycle to work, sports courts and an in-house gym, our employees are encouraged to build activity and movement into their daily routines.

Integration at the heart of Discovery's new
people-centric headquarters

Delivering high-quality wellness care for our employees was a priority. Discovery's on-site wellness centres switched from an external, outsourced provider to a semi in-house provider in a move to achieve even better service levels. The wellness centre at 1 Discovery Place has a physiotherapist, chiropractor, general practitioner and optometrist, as well as a full-time counselling psychologist. Access to a nurse and a dentist is possible for all employees. Discovery's Cape Town office, which recently relocated, also has an on-site wellness centre to ensure that employees can prioritise their wellbeing.

Smart design and state of the art technology opens up 1 Discovery Place for people with disabilities.

Our employees' wellbeing in 2018

Everyone has their own goals when it comes to their personal wellbeing. For some, it is about healthier eating or getting in shape, for others it's about quitting smoking or managing their stress levels.

In recognition of the very personal nature of wellness, our focus has shifted in 2018. We encourage each employee to select their own wellness goals, and then we support their personalised journey every step of the way, until they reach them.

Our approach to employee wellness is built on the same foundation as the rest of our business - the Vitality model. The more healthy a Vitality member, the higher their Vitality status, and the more rewards they receive. Ensuring that our employees are able to enjoy the same benefits our clients do by engaging in Vitality is a key part of our approach to workplace wellness.

Based on this approach, in our South African offices we have set three objectives for employee wellness:

1. We aim to get 80% of permanent Discovery employees onto Vitality We will run a series of internal health-focused campaigns and increase the number Discovery employees registered on Vitality
2. We aim to get 70% of Discovery employees to select a personal wellbeing goal via our BeWell platform, based on the five health factors contributing to Vitality Age
3. We aim to get 70% of Discovery employees to make use of a ?tness device or download a ?tness app and link it to their Vitality account

Discovery will be rolling out Healthy Company in August 2018, our comprehensive employee assistance programme, to our own workforce. Using tailored solutions and data-driven insights, Healthy Company takes a proactive approach to managing each employee's personal risk profile with a view to organisational and individual impact.

Vitality UK hones in on employee wellness

In 2018, the employee health and wellbeing programme for our UK business, Vitality, was informed by the results of our Britain's Healthiest Workplace (BHW) survey, which we featured in our 2017 report. The BHW survey results were disaggregated and workshopped with the leadership team of each division in Vitality, to yield action plans aimed at improving employee health and wellbeing. Progress will be assessed after the next survey round. Our response to the survey findings focussed on the three pillars of physical, mental, and financial wellbeing:

Physical wellbeing


A series of campaigns rolled out over 12 months included:

  • A smoking cessation initiative which achieved a 61.5% success rate
  • The annual 'Step-tember' step challenge, which attracts participation from the majority of staff
  • Runs with the CEO, joined by over 300 employees at all sites
  • Employee participation in Vitality-sponsored events: The Vitality Big Half, the Vitality 10,000 and the Vitality Westminster Mile

Mental wellbeing


76 volunteers from across the business attended mental health champion training provided by Mental Health First Aid. This network will meet quarterly.


Financial wellbeing


Because a significant percentage of Vitality employees reported in the BHW survey that they were experiencing financial stress, we:

  • Designed and implemented a month-long financial wellbeing campaign that featured lunchtime workshops on financial management and retirement planning
  • Partnered with a socially responsible debt consolidation service provider

Between 2014 and 2017, the proportion of employees with poor nutrition dropped by 7%, physical inactivity by 33% and smokers by 15%

We are pleased to note that in the UK our employee wellness campaigns are having a positive impact. Between 2014 and 2017 we've seen the following encouraging shifts, particularly in the number of employees reaching Platinum Vitality status:

Analysis of the Britain's Healthiest Workplace survey results and Vitality programme participation data, as well as human resources and business performance indicators, confirm that employees who are highly engaged with the Vitality programme:

  • Are absent less often and for shorter periods
  • Are more productive
  • Have longer tenure
  • Experience higher job satisfaction
  • Earn higher bonuses

All this provides compelling evidence of the shared value model at work within Vitality.

A business-level approach to employee health

Sharing the value of a healthier workplace isn't limited to Discovery - many employers are looking for ways to support their employees on their wellness journey. Linking arms makes the wellness chain stronger, which is why Discovery sees reaching out to other employers as another opportunity to have a positive impact on people's health outcomes.

Discovery launched its Healthy Company Care offering in August 2018, a proactive corporate wellness programme aimed at employer groups and that places strong emphasis on preventive measures. Early health screenings give a company's employees information about the state of their health and can help employers understand their workforce's overall health profile. Based on this information, productivity maps or an absenteeism index could be developed for employers to understand how well they are performing compared with the industry or sector. Working together, Discovery and the employer can develop targeted and effective health interventions for employees.

Early health screenings help employers understand their workforce's overall health profile

Discovery PrimaryCare taps into the potential for employers to support the vision of extending quality healthcare to their lower income employees. PrimaryCare is focused on making sure that quality healthcare cover is affordable for as many people as possible, and in 2018 we had 22 184 PrimaryCare members.

Supporting businesses to make their employees healthier and better protected case study.

Walking the talk with corporate health metrics

Discovery aims to lead the way in piloting standardised corporate health metrics in 2019

By measuring, monitoring and seeking to improve workforce health metrics, employers can enjoy a number of direct positive impacts, including reducing resignations and absenteeism, and increasing sustainable earnings.

During 2018, Discovery continued to work closely with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) to finalise objective health metrics that can guide reporting in South Africa. In our 2017 report, we committed to advocating for the inclusion of health metrics in global corporate reporting standards and these metrics are ready for piloting. Discovery will be leading the way by implementing the standardised corporate health metrics in 2019.

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