Can demonstrating a culture of corporate wellness enhance competitive advantage?

By Sandra McKinnon, Head of Rutherford Cross North-West office.

This week we brought twenty leaders from the legal and accountancy professions together in our Manchester office to take part in a discussion on this important question. Led by Laura Bamber, founder of the prominent North-West consultancy The Vibrancy Hub, we discussed how demonstrating a culture of corporate wellness enhances a firm’s ability to attract and retain top talent and we explored what techniques leadership teams can employ to motivate their people to be healthy, well and more productive.

Laura explained that we need to change our way of thinking in relation to workplace wellness – fruit bowls and discounted gym memberships are no longer enough! The world and the workplace is changing and if we want to attract and retain quality talent we must put our team’s health and wellbeing at the top of our agenda. The benefits to a business of developing a robust people strategy that incorporates corporate wellness is six-fold.

  • Attract top talent
  • Engage and retain staff
  • Boost productivity and output per employee
  • Reduced absenteeism and presenteeism
  • Improved company image and client service levels
  • Cohesive culture and high team morale



Health and wellness are all over the headlines – and the conversation is evolving – over 80% of GP surgery visits can be traced back to workplace stress as a root cause. Businesses therefore have a duty of care to do what they can to reduce stress and by doing so could impact levels of productivity, absenteeism and retention.

Furthermore, we have a productivity issue in the UK which does not correlate with the amount of time we spend at work. In Expert Market’s 2017 analysis of the 35 most (and least productive) countries, the UK came a dismal 17th, five places behind its lowest scoring Scandinavian counterpart, despite having the longest full-time working week among EU countries, per the World Economic Forum. This discrepancy is a major problem both for managers and employers. On average, the notion of “presenteeism” costs businesses £605 per-person each year and when combined with absenteeism this costs the UK economy £73bn per year. If we can make our people more engaged and effective, there could be a real shift in productivity, performance and retention.

The world of work is changing – through advancements in technology and because of the rise of Millennials in our businesses. We need to adapt to technology and make it a friend not foe. Technology has great potential to improve wellbeing at work, employees can now be as productive, if not more, working outside of the office given digitalisation. Millennials, who will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, want more from life and work – if we want to attract and retain them we must adapt to their needs and reflect their priorities.



Firms must create a stable, resilient and cohesive workforce who are operating at their potential and can tackle challenges and work through times of adversity. The Vibrancy Hub emphasise 4 pillars of workplace wellness:

  1. Creating a self-aware and fulfilled workforce – understanding the unique value of colleagues and how they can contribute to the organisational vision must be understood and supported
  2. Cultivating strong and healthy mindsets – potential can be optimised by the reframing of beliefs and confidence-building initiatives
  3. Strategies to cope with stress – Reduce overwhelm and prevent burnout by developing restorative techniques and coping mechanisms. This can be achieved through techniques such as meditation which must be championed and legitimised by leaders
  4. Productivity habits to boost effectiveness – improving focus through organisation, planning, structure, boundary setting and time management. Managing email volume effectively is the most obvious remedy to boosting productivity and reducing reactiveness in the daily routine.

Strong examples from leadership are essential in the success of the above pillars. This will empower staff, not only to feel comfortable admitting that they may need some help but also enabling them to identify these issues in the first instance. Ideally wellness in the workplace should be championed from the top-down and the bottom-up – but this must be preceded by senior management legitimising key principles.

People are the greatest assets and now more than ever there is a battle for talent. This is particularly true inside the context of professional services given the demands of the industry. Our workforce is under pressure from the distractions of technology which must be addressed, but the same technology also provides great opportunity to cater to the new workforce’s needs and demands. We need to build a stable, resilient, engaged and loyal workforce therefore people strategy and corporate wellness must be moved to the top of our agenda. We need to stop looking at this as a cost to the bottom line – this is an investment and opportunity for future growth and can create real competitive advantage.

To discuss any of the themes in this article or to book a consultation for your business, please contact [email protected]

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Rutherford Cross is a specialist senior finance and accountancy recruitment firm with offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester. Rutherford Cross is part of the Livingston James Group.