Participants take part in free yoga classes during an event called "Grand Zentral" September 15, 2016 at Grand Central Station in New York. / AFP / DON EMMERT        (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

Employers are invited to sign up for Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, an annual survey that not only leads to recognition for Britain’s healthiest employers and employees, but is also designed to help understand and tackle poor health and wellbeing among staff.

The analysis, run in partnership with the FT by Vitality, the insurance company, and Rand Europe, has already shown that workplace programmes offering improved nutrition and encouraging physical activity can rapidly improve morale and productivity. Data from the 2016 survey suggested an average of 27.5 days a year lost to ill health-related absence and low productivity, equivalent to £73bn annually across the UK.

It has helped identify effective programmes being run by different businesses and demonstrated the importance of sleep and flexible working to boost employee satisfaction and to reduce both absenteeism and presenteeism — when an employee turns up to work, but is unproductive due to ill health or stress.

Mental wellbeing and stress prevention programmes have been identified as among the most important measures — but are also particularly difficult to successfully implement.

Several hundred companies have taken part in the survey in previous years, and it is being modified and expanded in 2017 to encourage participation by smaller employers, the non-profit sector and public sector organisations including parts of Britain’s National Health Service.

There will also be parallel surveys conducted in several countries in Asia for the first time this year.

While many employers already invest significantly in healthcare programmes, in the past there have been few studies that measure their comparative effectiveness, assess employee satisfaction or make connection between wellness and productivity.

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