Corporate health kicks prescribed by business experts

A team of academics and business experts have pooled their knowledge to provide the corporate world with a crucial health kick and create highly engaged, healthy workforces.

EIP Group has been developed by entrepreneur Neil Cameron, alongside academics from Newcastle, Northumbria and Durham universities to provide a new service aimed at improving the profitability and performance of companies by focusing on the health and wellbeing of their employees.

The Newcastle-based firm has developed a range of health promotion programmes to engage and inspire workforces by helping them to: manage change and stress, prevent accidents and injuries, increase physical activity and exercise, and improve nutrition levels. And by tackling the workplace health issues identified as priorities by its team of consultants  - the company forecasts a positive impact on the bottom line of its clients.

Designed by industry leading experts within the fields of occupational psychology, human resource management, nutrition, physical fitness and musculo-skeletal disorders, the programmes are based on robust scientific evidence and utilise the team’s combined 25 years’ experience of managing organisational change throughout the UK.

And despite current pressures on companies to reduce budget expenditure, Neil says there is a real appetite for the service from the corporate world.  

He said: “Employee health and wellbeing has traditionally been seen as a ‘nice to have but not essential luxury’ but this attitude is rapidly changing as more and more research proves the business case for positive changes in this area.

“Organisations are under pressure to generate returns on any investment and therefore health promotion is becoming a real priority, from corporate board level and right down to SME level. We are only in the very early stages of development but we’ve already had a great deal of interest in the service and we’re in discussion with some big companies in the region.”

EIP Group has been developed by Neil as a spin-out from Sport Works – a company he launched three years ago to support the provision of sport, exercise and educational delivery within local authorities and the NHS.

Newcastle Science City worked with Neil to bring the service to market and EIP Group is one of hundreds of North East companies the business support team has worked with to commercialise new insight-led ideas, helping them to innovate and grow.

Business mentor Matt Hindhaugh worked closely with Neil and Newcastle University’s Changing Age for Business initiative to explore possible markets for the service and share the Newcastle’s world-leading insight into the emerging corporate needs arising from an ageing population and workforce.

Neil said: “Matt has provided a very valuable overview to the incredible market potential for our service and the opportunities that this presents. His understanding of the issues facing the employer of an ageing workforce has provided me with a real holistic approach to growing the business and has enabled me to get a ‘bigger picture’ view of my business’s potential.

“Newcastle Science City’s support has really accelerated the development of the company and allowed me to bring it to market earlier than I’d anticipated. The support provided and the front end of the development – with marketing, branding and website development – allows me to now focus on securing contracts and taking the business forward.”

Matt said: “EIP Group is ideally placed to work with the forward thinking leaders of organisations who recognise the opportunity to improve the performance by employing happy, healthy people.

“It has long been believed that happy, healthy people are more engaged with their employers and productive than unhappy or unhealthy people – irrespective of their age.  Ongoing research around the world is beginning to enable the measurement of just how much more productive these workforces can be.” 

Gateshead’s Spark Response, a contact centre and fulfilment company, is among EIP Group’s potential first clients after a successful taster session carried out with a sample group of its 137 staff.

Human resources manager Edward Duffy said: “The fact that EIP Group can design a bespoke package according to the exact needs of a particular workforce is a major attraction for a company such as ours, which has very different health risks relating to specific parts of the business.

“We ran a pilot session with six staff from across the business and their positive reaction to what they learned has convinced us to consider a longer term commitment as part of our ongoing investment in our staff.”

Newcastle Science City is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, securing £2.3million of ERDF investment. The ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-2013 is bringing over £300m into the North East to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region.