What is the true value of employee wellbeing?

18 January 2019

 

What is the true value of employee wellbeing?


The importance of employee wellbeing is a hot topic among HR teams across the nation. Yet, despite all the discussion, 64% of employers have no health and wellbeing strategy. But that’s all set to change as, by 2020, 76% of employers plan to introduce health and wellbeing plans to differentiate themselves from other organisations.

In our first article in this two-part series, we examined the need for an employee wellbeing strategy. Now we’re moving on to explore how you can make the business case for improving the health of your staff all backed up with a range of employee wellbeing statistics.


Making the case for employee wellbeing

With financial uncertainty subjecting additional spending to added scrutiny, HR leaders need to find ways to gain sign off for long-term wellbeing spend. Which means building an effective business case that clarifies the difference good employee health can make to your organisation.

HR has long focussed on the importance of reducing sickness absence to improve productivity. But wellbeing strategies cast the net wider by focussing on proactively supporting employee health. That’s because research has drawn attention to the link between unhealthy lifestyles and time off work due to poor health.

According to a range of employee wellbeing statistics published in Personnel Today, studies have found:
• employees who smoke are twice as likely to take time off work
• workers who are obese take an average of three sick days more each year than those of healthy weight and employees who are severely obese take six days more

Figures like this highlight the importance of employee wellbeing for organisational productivity and cost control. And other employee wellbeing statistics show that in some instances employees are absent for lengthy periods of time. And it’s not just due to poor physical health.

15.4 million working days were lost to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2017/18 with an average of 25.8 days lost per case. In total, 57% of all working days lost to ill health were due to stress and anxiety.

Both short and long-term absences reduce productivity and also ramps up the pressure on other employees who are called on to pick up the slack. Which could mean they’re more likely to go off sick too. And the alternative, to hire in temporary staff, is an added cost most businesses could do without.

HR leaders are using data like this to highlight the importance of employee wellbeing strategies and to influence executives to loosen organisational purse strings.

Why ROI (return on investment) shouldn’t be your sole focus

Finding figures that prove the fiscal case for employee wellbeing is harder than you might think. Although research shows that an investment of £45 million by the Royal Mail generated a £225 million return over three years, there aren’t a significant amount of similar studies to point to.

The reason for a lack of ROI-based evidence? Because calculating financial returns over a long period is difficult when it comes to something as variable as human health and wellbeing.

While economic evaluation helps to determine budgets, particularly when resources are limited, cost-effectiveness is not the only driving factor for providing health and wellbeing services.

There are plenty of other benefits of wellbeing in the workplace that you can focus on.

Service

The NHS Staff Survey finds that NHS Trusts that score highly on the health and wellbeing index demonstrate better performance across a range of measures including financial, agency staff costs, patient satisfaction and a reduction in acute infections.


Productivity

Research conducted in one organisation found that when managers’ focus was shifted to skills and abilities, motivation (eg reward-based management) and job design, there was:
o An 8% improvement in job satisfaction
o A 14% increase in productivity
o A 24% reduction in time delays
o A 33% reduction in accidents
o A 77% reduction in lost-time incidents


Figures like these go a long way to showing the benefits of wellbeing in the workplace.

Ethics and values
How important is employee wellbeing to your organisation? If your business says it values its employees (and what business doesn’t), you need to live up to the statement by taking care of your employees’ health. Even if employee wellbeing doesn’t chime with your company code, ensuring the robustness of your organisation probably will.
Providing enjoyable jobs, improved communication, less stress and better overall health will position your people to deal better with stressors. This creates more durable staff which results in a more resilient business and a healthier bottom line. Now there’s something any executive team can sign up to.

Recruitment and retention
With millennials now accounting for 35% of the UK workforce, you need to understand what’s important to this demographic. And guess what? Millennials want to work for employers who understand the importance of employee wellbeing.

Fail to provide the right kind of package for this section of your workforce and you could find you’re losing out to other employers when you try to recruit and retain.

HR leaders have long known that when it comes to people, value can’t always be captured in terms of ROI. Improved productivity, reduced sickness absence, consistently living your values and giving employees what they want, all contribute to the bottom line, albeit in different ways. With these employee wellbeing statistics to hand, it’s easier than ever to demonstrate the benefits of employee wellbeing in the workplace for your organisation.

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