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Wellness is a buzz word at the moment, but in the workplace is it a fad or a fundamental? Spectrum Wellness, which provides wellness programmes to corporate clients, is today announcing 100 new jobs as part of a €4m investment. 

The company's managing director, Stephen Costello, said health and wellness in the workplace is not a new phenomenon, but has been a priority for companies for many years. "What has changed in recent years is that it is now managed in a more co-ordinated and organised way. What also has changed is that the tangible benefits of workplace wellness programmes are being tracked and recognised. Even more importantly for employers, it is an important suite in their arsenal of employers' brand," Mr Costello explained.

Spectrum Wellness provides tailored health and wellness programmes for companies as small as 25 people to companies that employ 12,000 people. The programmes include seminars, workshops and mental health training, and the company also manages onsite gyms, health centres and it also provides a range of digital solutions.

"We are seeing increasing demand every year. Absenteeism costs the Irish economy €1.5 billion every year, so we are seeing companies spending money on the health and wellbeing of their workforce as an investment, not a cost, and this is to control issues like workplace stress and muscoskeletal issues - neck and back pain," Mr Costello said.  

Clients of Spectrum Wellness include pharmaceutical, manufacturing, retail and technology companies. Mr Costello also said they are seeing very traditional companies now starting to take part in health and wellness programmes. "Workers are no longer seeing health and wellness in the workplace as a perk. They are coming to expect it, and they are actively seeking employers that take it seriously. It's a very competitive recruitment environment, and having health and wellness programmes in place give companies the edge when it comes to attracting and retaining talent."

Earlier this year, the Government floated the idea of tax breaks for capital investment in workplace wellbeing. "We would be very supportive of that initiative but I think we have to look at other countries, and specifically Germany. Germany provides a €500 incentive per employee to companies to rollout health promotion programmes. So I would definitely welcome that idea but there is more that we can do," he said.

MORNING BRIEFS - Paper and packaging company, Smurfit Kappa Group, has completed the acquisition of Reparenco, a paper and recycling business in the Netherlands, for €460m. The acquisition means Smurfit Kappa can increase its capacity to recycle containerboard in Europe, where the company continues to see strong demand driven by growth in e-commerce and increased substitution of plastic with paper-based packaging.

*** The Government's proposed auto-enrolment pensions savings plan has the support of the public according to research by Aviva. The proposal would see people who have no private pension remain enrolled in a scheme unless they chose to opt out. Three out of four people support the proposed reforms, while 7% are opposed.

*** Ryanair said its passenger numbers rose by 7% to 12.6 million customers in June.

*** Vue International has agreed to buy the Showtime cinema chain in Ireland and Cinema3D in Poland. This will expand its offering to over 200 sites and 2000 screens across Europe.