20 Mar 2019 - 13:00 CET

Increasing vitality, engagement and health in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the population is ageing. In the past ten years, the average retirement age has risen from below 62 to around 65 years of age, meaning the Dutch are working longer before they can retire. The number of people unfit for work is also rising, as are health complaints among even young people.

Nationale-Nederlanden focuses on health in two ways. We are a health and income insurer for our corporate and retail customers, and for their employees. And we are also a global employer of about 14,000 people. We believe it is increasingly important to advise and support people to adopt a healthier lifestyle and to improve their mental resilience.

Generation difference

Many generations work within our company. If we compare the oldest generation of employees with the youngest, we see a difference in the type of health complaints. Where the older generation often has physical complaints, younger employees are increasingly under mental pressure from their social environment.

Focus on sustainable employability

In many countries, governments are withdrawing social support, and people are increasingly responsible for their own healthcare. As people spend a lot of time at work, the workplace is a good place to draw attention to health and vitality.

This is a theme within Nationale-Nederlanden, for example, when it comes to the sustainable employability of employees. We speak of 'sustainable employability' instead of 'absenteeism policy'. Because we want to operate preventively and try to prevent employees from missing work for longer periods.

Vitality programme: the first pilot

Based on this prevention ambition, Nationale-Nederlanden started a vitality programme in 2017, with a first pilot for a small group of employees in the Netherlands. The goal of this pilot is to test a vitality service ourselves, and offer it to our customers when successful.

The pilot started with an analysis of the health of each participant. That of course varies per person as well as the personal challenges: in the field of mental vitality or physical health, or in the balance between work and private life. The first pilot offered participants coaching, training, workshops and guidance, including a fitness tracker wristband to monitor progress.

Research results

The pilot was implemented alongside a study investigating its effectiveness. We measured effects by comparing two groups of employees against each other. A group of more than 100 employees participated in the vitality programme, with a control group of comparable size not participating. Both groups filled out a questionnaire. From this measurement, three effects were clearly visible:

1. The engagement of the participants in the programme increased

2. Their self-esteem increased considerably

3. There was a (slight) increase in vitality, especially in the physical field

When we talk about engagement, we mean that an employee feels comfortable during his or her workday. People who are enthusiastic are generally more productive, are more cost aware and have fewer accidents.

The increase in participants’ self-esteem is related to mental vitality. When self-esteem increases, the chance of burnout or depression becomes smaller.

Second pilot: ‘Fit by Nationale-Nederlanden’

After testing the impact and including the learning points of the first pilot, we developed a second pilot initially tested amongst our employees, ‘Fit by Nationale-Nederlanden’. In the first half of 2019, ‘Fit by Nationale-Nederlanden’ will become available for a limited number of customers. What started as an internal vitality programme for employees is evolving into a value proposition for customers and their employees.

Making lives better

The vitality programme is just one example of how Nationale-Nederlanden wants to help make the lives of customers a little better every day. Especially when it comes to vitality, health and sustainable employability, we see many related issues where we would like to help. Future focus areas could include reducing stress complaints among young employees, or an industry-specific vitality approach.