Sheffield’s Westfield Health has been helping people stay healthy and access quality care for 100 years.
Westfield Health is an award-winning health and wellbeing provider, dedicated to making a healthy difference to the quality of life of their customers and the communities in which they live and work. We spoke to CEO Dave Capper about their lasting legacy.
When did you join Westfield Health?
Westfield Health has been a major part of my career. Like most people from Sheffield, I grew up hearing the Westfield name, so, when an opportunity came up to join the company initially as a Management Trainee back in 2004, I jumped at the chance.
After seven years, at which point I was leading the sales function, I wanted to get an international perspective and left the business for nearly four years whilst I built my experience working with clients across the Americas, Western Europe and the Middle East.
Seeing that Westfield Health was embarking on a programme of transformational change, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. So, I was asked to re-join the organisation as part of the Board of Directors in March 2015 and have been here since, progressing to my current role as CEO in July last year.
What had you been doing previously?
From insurance firms to the translation industry, I’ve been in a variety of different sectors. In some ways my career has come full circle: I started out as a professional footballer at Sheffield United before retiring early due to injury. Becoming CEO of a health and wellbeing company has been a brilliant opportunity to marry my personal interests and professional experience.
What are your core responsibilities?
If Westfield Health were a sports team, I’d be the coach. I’m responsible for looking at the bigger picture, strategising how we can best work together to get into the next league and making sure each and every team member has the training and support they need to contribute to that journey. My role is all about creating the right environment and conditions for success.
Celebrating our centenary was a real milestone and an important reminder to me — together with the team, it’s my responsibility to figure out how we make sure Westfield not only survives, but grows and thrives to create a legacy that will last the next 100 years.
What has been Westfield Health’s biggest success?
When you’re looking after and guiding an institution that’s been around for so many years, getting the balance right between keeping the magic that’s made it a success but still moving with the times can be hard.
Westfield Health’s biggest success has been managing to take such a well-established business and successfully diversify.
A couple of years ago you could count the number of products we offered on one finger, never mind one hand! Now, we offer so much more than insurance — we deliver an extensive continuum of wellbeing solutions to companies of all sizes across the country.
Being able to expand what we do without losing what makes us Westfield Health is definitely our biggest success.
Anything that hasn’t worked?
Whenever you embark on significant change, there are always failures, whether it’s small, day-to-day things or bigger things.
When we started on Westfield’s change journey, we anticipated that some things wouldn’t work, and one of the things we’ve tried really hard to do is to let our staff know that it’s ok to fail and to learn from that failure.
We call it ‘test and learn’, and it’s caught on — you’ll hear people around the Westfield Health office saying “ok, let’s give it a try, let’s test and learn”. That growth mindset is really key to continuing to innovate and grow.
How do you improve on a legacy that covers 100 years?
It’s an incredible responsibility and one I take very seriously as CEO. Westfield Health has survived recessions, market shifts, even world wars, and it’s really important to me that we don’t lose what’s made us successful.
Part of what’s helped us succeed has been our ability to adapt. That openness to trying new things and creating new, market-defining products is part of our DNA — that hasn’t and won’t change.
We’re now building on that attitude and setting our vision for the next 100 years. Following our diversification from insurance to wellbeing, we’ll be building on that foundation to make sure Westfield Health becomes the go-to provider for corporate health and wellbeing nationally.
We want to shape the market, to redefine expectations of wellbeing products and demonstrate what works. That’s why we’re partnering with global leaders, such as the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, to create evidence-based solutions that are unique to Westfield.
Achieving those business goals is just the start. We’re so proud of our not-for-profit heritage. Over the past 20 years, we’ve given over £15million to charity, and hitting our targets means that we get to make a healthy difference to the lives of more people, continuing and building on our legacy.
With pension ages increasing – and likely to increase further – how important is health and wellbeing in the workplace?
Even with the current pension age, we can see the impact that ignoring health and wellbeing has on the workforce: UK businesses lose £77.5billion every single year due to low productivity and sick days.
We can’t afford it — especially in the north: research by the Northern Health Science Alliance found that there’s a staggering £4 gap in productivity per-person per-hour in the North compared to the rest of England — £1.20 of which is attributable to poor health.
For us to remain competitive on a regional and national level, it’s essential we put health and wellbeing top of the agenda right now — we can’t afford to wait. Already, there are more than ten million people over the age of 50 in employment; as pension ages increase and we all work longer, this will become even more crucial.
Are practices (eg, yoga sessions, exercise classes) applicable to small companies as much as the larger ones?
Often smaller companies see health and wellbeing as a ‘nice to have’, something that big companies can afford, but would be too much of an investment for them.
Actually, it’s small businesses that disproportionately feel the impact of poor productivity or days lost to ill health. It’s small businesses that need to take care of and invest in their people the most.
Wellbeing pays. In many cases, initiatives even pay for themselves: research by Deloitte found that the average ROI of workplace mental health intervention is £4.20 for every £1 spent.
Whatever their size, companies that choose to prioritise today’s bottom line over tomorrow’s workforce aren’t setting themselves up for long-term growth and success.