Good Intentions: UK employees try but fail to embrace clean living

09 November 2015
  • More than 85% employees believe they would be more productive at work if they were able to stick to positive lifestyle changes.
  • Half of UK employees are trying to make long-term changes to their lifestyle, but less than one in ten manage.
  • Many saying lack of willpower and busy lives hold them back.
  • Bupa UK announces the launch of its brand new health assessments, designed to support employees reach their health and wellbeing goals.

People at gym

Half of UK employees are trying hard to make long-term changes to their lifestyles, but are struggling, new research by Bupa has found.  In the study of 2,000 UK employees, 52% admitted that their changes generally last no longer than a few weeks, and just 7% have been completely successful in changing how they live for the better.

Employers should take note as more than 85% employees believe they would be more productive if they were able to stick to positive lifestyle changes in the long-term. Furthermore, two in five (44%) would love their work to help them make positive changes to their lifestyle and half (48%) say a regular wellbeing review would help with this.

The research comes as Bupa UK launches a new range of health assessments, designed specifically to help businesses engage their employees in their health and wellbeing and create a healthier, more productive workforce.  Employees receive ongoing coaching during and beyond the assessment to help map out a clear route to a healthier lifestyle, as well as digital support to stay motivated to reach goals.

Employees also have access to Bupa Boost, a digital innovation that enables employees to set personal goals, track their progress against friends and colleagues and motivate and inspire them, as well as integrating data from other apps and wearables.  This can also help the Bupa adviser provide advice and support during and after the assessment.  This is all supported by 24/7 access to nurses and doctors for a year after the health assessment through our Anytime Healthline.

Dr Steven Luttrell, Medical Director at Bupa UK said: 

“Clearly we all want to be healthier, but currently don’t feel supported to reach our goals and this means we are struggling to make our health resolutions stick. Improving the wellbeing of workers in the UK needs a proactive effort, yet unfortunately many employers are failing to see the value of health and wellbeing initiatives. By supporting staff to make positive lifestyle changes, employers can also benefit from healthy and productive workforce.”

Three quarters of employees (73%) have chosen to change their lifestyle to feel more physically healthy, with nearly half (46%) changing to improve mental health.  The top behaviours people are trying to change are exercising more (65%), losing weight (61%), and eating less sugar (48%).  But people clearly need support to help them achieve these goals as they are being held back by a lack of willpower (41%) and their busy lives (40%).

Dr Luttrell continues:

“Our new health assessments are able to provide the support the people need to make healthy lifestyle changes. Regular health assessments can help employees to set goals, and through regular follow-ups with health professionals, and the use of technologies such as our mobile health and wellbeing innovation Bupa Boost, individuals can feel supported and enabled to make changes for the better.

“We believe that a personalised approach is key to supporting people to change to a healthier lifestyle.  Some people will want to set goals; other will enjoy peer support or competition, whilst others like prompts and reminders.”

With ‘goal setting’ the most frequent way that employees change their lifestyle (34%), Bupa Boost’s ‘Gamification’ technology will help drive behavioral change by tapping into people’s natural desire for competition, achievement and recognition.

Bupa UK’s new health assessments are the latest new product developed to help address changing healthcare needs and demands of people across the UK. 

Notes to editor

About the research:

*2,000 UK full-time employees were independently surveyed in October 2015 by OnePoll. Other notable findings were:

The top behaviours individuals are trying to change are:
1. Exercising more (65%)
2. Losing weight (61%)
3. Eating less sugar (4%)
4. Managing stress (36%)
5. Drinking less alcohol (36%)

The most frequent ways that respondents named to help change their lifestyle are:
1. Goal setting (34%)
2. Rewards (29%)
3. Self monitoring (24%)
4. Peer support (20%)
5. Competition (19%)

About Bupa UK’s new health assessments:

Health Assessments traditionally provide an overview of where an employee’s health is at. Bupa’s new health assessments have been designed to ensure employees start engaging with their health even before the day of the assessment, and have continued support to meet their goals after their assessment. Full details of the range of Bupa’s new health assessments can be found here.

Benefits to businesses

They demonstrate the value businesses place on their people’s health and wellbeing, and help to attract and retain talent.

They encourage a positive and proactive attitude towards healthier lifestyles, helping businesses to manage absenteeism.

They can offer a valuable insight into areas of potential health risk for employees, helping to inform wellbeing strategies and prevent more serious conditions developing.

Benefits to employees

The health assessments are designed to empower employees to take control of their health and address any concerns they may have.

They offer lifestyle coaching to support employees map out a clear route towards a healthier lifestyle and stay motivated to reach goals.

They offer greater convenience by removing the need for fasting beforehand, and ensuring employees get their blood results back on the day.

Employees also have access to Bupa Boost which health advisers can also help able to support in setting suitable goals and staying motivated.

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 15.5 million health insurance customers, provide healthcare to around 14.5 million people in our clinics and hospitals, and look after over 23,300 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, and many more through our 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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