Hurrah, it's holiday time. A fortnight in the sun and reason to cut down on the old waistline before you go. But a holiday should not be the only reason for cutting down on cream cakes. Nor should a two-week holiday be the only time employees think about their wellbeing. Yet all too often it is, as long working hours and stressful lifestyles take their toll on employees' everyday health and fitness.

Enter the health & wellbeing policy very fashionable among today's concerned employers. As PepsiCo UK and Ireland president and FDF health and wellbeing steering group chairman Salman Amin explains in the industry's Workplace Wellbeing report: "A healthy, committed workforce is vital to business success. We know the wellbeing of our colleagues has a direct impact on productivity and our bottom line."

Phew, it's not just about being cuddly, then. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding a low-fat, low-sugar one, naturally. First, let's look at the top ingredient in every employer's favourite recipe: employee engagement. This year's OC Tanner/Towers Perrin annual engagement survey, conducted in 13 countries, finds wellbeing to be a major opportunity to drive engagement. Weak scores in wellbeing equated to low engagement (35%) while companies with high scores had 76% engagement.

Then there's the impact on productivity. Unilever was one of the first to show the business case for workplace wellbeing when a two-year pilot, comparing some 500 staff given health interventions with 1,000 who were not, found that the proportion of time the former were not working effectively fell from 24.5% to 18.2%. That's equivalent to £560 per employee per year.

Finally there's the reduction in sickness absence and workplace injury. According to the FDF, from April 1998 to March 2008, nearly 89,000 workers in the food and drink industries reported an injury to the HSE. It's a no brainer then to pay attention to occupational health issues, such as back injuries and mental ill health.

But is it all about giving gym membership? Not according to Nestlé group medical officer David Batman, speaking at Business in the Community's first Business Action on Health Summit in May. "Simply giving staff more autonomy in their jobs will reduce the level of stress they suffer," he said. "This impacts blood pressure and heart conditions. Just giving people the opportunity to do their job will have a far more significant impact on the health of employees than persuading them to give up smoking and eating healthily in the canteen," he said.

In other words, it's all about good management. Now could you pass me the doughnuts please?

Siân Harrington is editor of Human Resources magazine.