M&S provides staff with free physiotherapy from PAM Physio Solutions

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Marks & Spencer has enhanced the employee benefits it offers by launching a free physiotherapy service. Any of its 60,000 employees affected by a musculoskeletal (MSK) issue, such as back pain or muscle sprain, will now be able to self-refer themselves for free advice and up to six free physiotherapy sessions.

Sarah Manlow, head of colleague wellbeing for M&S, explains, “Although we had a physiotherapy service in place before, employees could only access this if they were referred by their manager. We wanted to unlock access to physiotherapy and improve the employee experience by giving all our colleagues the chance to pick up the phone and refer themselves, allowing them to take proactive ownership for their health and wellbeing. Retail roles are physical, colleagues are on their feet all day, are often lifting, unpacking and stacking products, so looking after MSK health is really important.”

To provide the service, M&S partnered with PAM Physio Solutions. “We were very impressed with PAM Physio Solutions’ focus on early intervention and ability to offer employees a physiotherapy appointment within just 1-4 days of them getting in touch,” says Sarah. “Early intervention matters because the sooner employees can be helped to recover from a joint or muscle issue, the more likely they are to be able to remain in work while they recover, which is also good for their financial and mental health.”

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“We wanted to improve the employee experience by giving all our colleagues the chance to pick up the phone and refer themselves, allowing them to take proactive ownership for their health and wellbeing.”
– Sarah Manlow, head of colleague wellbeing, M&S

Simon Croker, colleague services service manager for M&S, says the scheme has been very well received, “As soon as the scheme was launched, we saw a four-fold increase in the number of people reaching out for physiotherapy support. Although there’s a cost involved, we know that by helping people to stay fit and well, we are impacting their personal wellbeing while also improving their levels of attendance.”

Sarah adds, “At a time when NHS waiting times and rising costs are making it difficult for employees to access physiotherapy, PAM Physio Solutions is enabling us to empower our people to look after themselves. The promotional videos, lanyards, key fobs, posters and leaflets help us to promote the scheme to all employees, many of whom are on the shop floor or in warehouses and don’t have access to computers.”

Simon agrees, “As an employer, it can be frustrating when you invest in wellbeing benefits but that doesn’t translate into value because employees aren’t taking full advantage to access them because they believe it’s too complicated. Thanks to PAM Physio Solutions, employees only need to make one phone call, then they get a text back confirming the details of their appointment. It also means managers don’t have any admin to do but are still made aware that a referral has been raised, so they can allow the employee time off for the appointment.”

He adds, “As PAM Physio Solutions triages calls, we can also be confident that employees are only being given the support they actually need to recover, to help manage costs. In some cases, that might just be some advice about self-treatment or a couple of hands-on physio sessions to help them relieve tension in a muscle. In other cases, they might need all six sessions to learn how to correct poor posture leading to pain.”

Claire Glynn, head of musculoskeletal services for PAM Physio Solutions, adds, “We’re delighted to be helping such a forward-thinking employer as M&S to put in place this proactive service. Employees who can refer themselves for physiotherapy are not only more likely to reach out for support sooner and more likely to put their treatment plan into action, they are more likely to recover before they go off sick or their performance starts to suffer.”

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About Marks & Spencer

M&S is a leading British retailer bringing quality, great value food, clothing and homeware to millions of customers.

About PAM Physio Solutions

PAM Physio Solutions works with employers to reduce the risk of employees going long-term sick with an MSK issue.
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