UNO November 2013

Taking care of our employees is healthy… and it is worthwhile



If we wonder why companies have to take care of their employees, the answer is very simple: because health, welfare and happiness are very important also in the workplace. But the truth is that it is also worthwhile. A healthy and happy employee performs more, suffers less absences at work and it is more productive.

Managing the employees’ health is a great opportunity: it allows creating strategies for a group of people to develop new healthy habits also when they are in the workplace. Maybe it is especially because they are in the workplace. That means that it is capable of implicate lots of people at the same time in order to take care of their health.

Managing the employees’ health is a great opportunity: it allows creating strategies for a group of people to develop healthy habits

According to the Informe sobre Absentismo Laboral (Report on Absenteeism from work) published by Adecco, Spanish workers are absent from work an average of 11.4 days a year. This number place Spain in the top countries on work absenteeism. This affects companies’ competitiveness and means an annual loss of billions of Euros in our country.
This number should be taken as an incentive when restructuring the relationships between companies and workers and how companies promote the employees’ healthy habits.

13Regarding Spanish companies, there is an increasing number of companies which implement measures to promote physical and mental well-being of employees. Preventing occupational risks is not enough. Nowadays companies need to take care of the biggest asset of companies: people. On the other hand, we can clearly see that workers are more worried about their health and their well-being at work than before. Recent surveys and studies show that measures related to health represent the most valued social benefit by employees.

More than wholesome: healthy

Once the adequate conditions are guaranteed at the workplace and once the basic health care needs are covered, we can confirm that the promotion of better health habits is also worthy for companies and workers. Most developed HR programs include the adoption of healthy habits, a balanced diet, the practice of physical exercise and all kind of health and prevention campaigns.

Regarding Sanitas, our business activity is actually taking care of people, what makes it clear for us that in order to meet our objectives we need to start with those inside the company. It is a matter of coherence.

So, in line with these thoughts we decided to create the program Sanitas Smile. It is based on four main pillars: physical exercise, nutrition, hydration and health promotion. Results are amazing.

We currently have more than 1,300 employees participating in the program. Just a few months ago this number was unbelievable, and it is quickly growing. Healthy habits are being promoted and we are helping people to live and work better. We even have the possibility to measure the physical improvement since those participants who want to, can be evaluated with physiological studies –endorsed by the European University of Madrid– which show the physical improvement over the months. Some of the examples: after 6 months, they spend 3.7 more hours during the week in physical exercise; they consume 8% more of vegetables, 5% more of low fat meat and have increased the water consumption.

The Sanitas Smile Program is one of the hallmarks of the Company and thanks to the evaluations of the European University of Madrid, the physical improvement on those participating can be proved

Starting this kind of initiatives is not always easy. There are usually two main problems: lack of corporative culture which need to be created, and lack of tools which must be substituted with imagination. In our case, with enthusiasm and effort we have overcome obstacles and we are now proud of what we have achieved and what Sanitas Smile means for the company’s philosophy.

The Smile Program is a pioneering initiative base in a dual idea: people need help to care for themselves and promoting healthy habits in companies has positive effects not only in the group’s health but also in the company’s health. Indeed, results are good from all points of view: those participating improve their health, life’s quality, are happier and employees develop a proud feeling of belonging to the company what makes them work better. So, at the end, we are all happy.


Yolanda Erburu
Executive Director of Communication and Marketing of Grupo Sanitas
She is Executive Director of Communication and Marketing and a member of the Management Committee of Grupo Sanitas in Spain and Latin America; as a member she is responsible for communication, sustainability, brand strategy and marketing. She is also General Director of the Fundación Sanitas and President of Foretica, a business’ and professionals’ association dedicated to CSR. She graduated in Journalism and has a Master in International Trade by the University of Navarra.

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