Big business shifts focus to adopt healthier workforce cultures

16 December 2016
CMO Network
  • A new report by the Bupa-powered Global Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) Network demonstrates the changing mindset of leading global businesses in tackling employee health issues
  • Health and wellbeing programmes to support workforces have shown positive results

Senior clinicians from some of the world’s leading companies have set out their ambitions to improve the general health and wellbeing of their workforce in a publication launched today by Bupa.

The Bupa-powered CMO Network’s report, Health: Our Business II, demonstrates the business community’s growing appetite to invest in and better understand the benefits of improving employee health. 

Statistics from the report show physically inactive employees are currently costing employers an additional 26 cents (USD) per hour worked as a result of increased sick days. One in four people are estimated to suffer from psychological ill health during their lifetime too. Many unhealthy habits are reinforced by working environments, which lead to absenteeism, lower productivity, increased anxiety and stress.

Findings from Health: Our Business II identify how targeted employee health programmes have not only improved the lives of workers but the sustainability, and success, of businesses. For example:

  • At Walgreens 100% of programme participants lost an average 3.3 pounds when incentivised through a points reward scheme; 
  • CVS Health employees who were offered a cash incentive to quit smoking were more likely to take part in a smoking concession programme and go on to succeed – an investment which offsets absenteeism, health costs and smoking breaks;ii 
  • Unilever’s Lamplight programme, focused on finding solutions and prevention strategies for employees with a number of health issues, saw a return of investment of 2.33:1 in productivity for the business.iii 
  • Walmart, the world’s largest food retailer, set up the ZP Challenge which offers support to 700,000 employees across four targeted areas – fitness, family, food and finance. Results from the challenge have shown participants have statistically higher business performance, with one in seven improving healthy behaviours.

The CMO Network has grown to more than 50 members this year, with increased membership attributed to enhanced business interest in workplace health initiatives. Collectively, CMO Network affiliated businesses employ more than eight million people across a variety of organisations, including GlaxoSmithKline, Intel, McLaren, IBM and global airlines. 

Dr Paul Zollinger-Read, Bupa’s Chief Medical Officer said: “Findings from our Health: Our Business II report show a healthy, happy workforce is a productive workforce. It is clear targeted health programmes have a positive impact on employees and their families as well as wider business performance - particularly in businesses where this support has not existed previously. 

“I’m heartened by the shift in mindset some of the world’s leading businesses have made to focus on the health of their workforce and I look forward to further developments in this space. The CMO Network continues to go from strength to strength and we hope to pilot a number of new initiatives in the coming year.”

i Please refer to page 100 and page 25 of the CMO Network’s Health: Our Business II for more details. The reference to cost of 26 cents was part of a research piece by Kimberly Clarke.
ii 90% of participants compared to those who didn’t (13.7% of those who were assigned to a deposit-based programme
iii Measured over a six year period and based on finding from 168,000 employees

Notes to editor

For more information, please contact:

Tarecca Musabbir, +44 (0)20 7656 2894 /


A full copy of the Health: Our Business II report is available online

About CMO Network

The global Chief Medical Officers' (CMO) Network is a group of world-leading clinicians, powered by Bupa, which is committed to bringing about a lasting improvement to the world's health. Together, they can leverage their combined insight, experience and global reach to solve some of the world's biggest health problems - namely heart disease, cancer, diabetes and mental health - through workplace health initiatives. 

The network comprises of Chief Medical Officers from some of the world's most innovative businesses, such as GSK, Unilever, Intel and Walmart, who have collective responsibility of a workforce of over eight million people.

To bring about significant, scalable and sustained enhancements, the network is focused on behaviour change and has been set the task of identifying key recommendations to sustainably improving workplace health across the globe.

About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

With no shareholders, our customers are our focus. We reinvest profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers.

We have 15.5m health insurance customers, provide healthcare to over 14.5m people in our clinics and hospitals, and look after over 22,900 aged care residents.

We employ over 78,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland, Chile, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the USA, Brazil, the Middle East and Ireland. We also have associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India.

Health insurance is around 70% of our business. In a number of countries, we also run clinics, dental centres, hospitals and care homes and villages.

For more information, visit

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