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Why Good Health is Good for Your Business

The physical and mental wellbeing of staff has one of the largest impacts on the people costs of a business - making it a critical concern for any organisation. Not only because wellness impacts engagement and all the positive gains that it brings. But also because the UK has a well-established productivity problem that is affecting the bottom line of UK companies.

The cost of poor employee health

In fact, research shows that productivity in the UK is 17% lower than the G7 average. And the main reason for this is employees not being fully engaged at work1.

Each year, absenteeism and presenteeism costs the UK £57 billion in loss of productivity – the equivalent of 30.4 days each year per employee2. Plus there are all of the additional costs when employees are distracted at work or absent including lost sales, slowed manufacturing, reduced business turnover, sick pay and the cost of cover for sick employees.

What is causing this?

  • We have an ageing population which is changing the demographics of the working population. Currently, 9.4 million employees are aged over 50 years3, and this is expected to increase by a further 3.7 million by 20224.
  • Modern workplaces are impacting our health. We’re working more and moving less with around 5 million adults spending more than 8 hours a day sitting down. And 50% of Britons admit to not doing any exercise at all5.
  • The pressures of everyday life, both inside and outside of the workplace, bring huge amounts of stress and anxiety all of which can impact an employee’s ability to work effectively. Top concerns include staying healthy at work (52%), saving enough for retirement (49%) and being able to provide for their family in the event of illness or death (45%). As a result, 61% of employees have less concentration at work and 56% experience lower job satisfaction6.

What can you do to help?

In contrast, companies that have a strong culture of health and wellbeing are seeing improved engagement and productivity. In fact:

  • The cost of lowered productivity in these companies is measured at 5.9% of payroll, compared with 10.7% for those with less supportive programmes2.
  • Firms with engaged employees enjoy 87% less staff turnover and staff take fewer sick days3.
  • Engaged employees with high wellbeing are 35% more attached to their organisations4.

So, designing and engaging your staff in a wellness strategy that works for both your company and your employees needs to be a priority.

How do you design a wellness strategy for your company?

  1. Review your existing data – Even if you don’t have a formal system in place, you will have various data sets across your business. For example, occupational health, any existing private medical insurance policies, your employee assistance programme etc. Use this to work out what the key drivers of health risks are within your organisation. 
  2. Audit and review of current policies – This will help you determine what is working and what isn’t.
  3. Design your programme – Identify your workforce’s pain points and choose benefits and services that will best support these. Research shows that 57% of employees are motivated to change their BMI, 52% want to take up more physical activity, 25% want to improve their nutrition and 37% of smokers want to give it up2. Do your benefits support your employees to make healthy choices?
  4. Communicate – It is pointless investing in a wellness programme if you don’t engage with your employees and tell them what is available. Britain's Healthiest Workplace study reveals that the top 5 companies offer on average 52.1 interventions, with staff aware of 21.1 and participating in 10.3 of these. This is in contrast to the bottom 5 companies who only offer 10.6 interventions, with staff aware of 5.4 and participating in 1.8 of these.
    Humans are also complex creatures – we know what is good for us, but we don’t always do it. So when inspiring positive change, make it the easy choice for employees by clearly communicating and ensuring ease of access to facilities, initiatives, incentives and benefits.
  5. Measure and refine - It is important to establish not only a meaningful, but also a measureable wellness programme to ensure its effectiveness. This will help you to regularly review what is and isn’t working for your employees and your business, and refine your strategy to improve results.

Need help or advice? Speak to our experts today.

1 Office for National Statistics
2 Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, 2017
3 CIPD, 2015
4 Altmann R. A new vision for older workers: retain, retrain, recruit, 2015
5 British Heart Foundation, 2015
6 Mercer Red C Wellness Research, 2015
7 Ibid
8 http://engageforsuccess.org/the-evidence-wellbeing-and-engagement

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