There is certainly a lot more conversation in the workplace about employee wellbeing and maybe that’s one thing we are grateful for post pandemic. Now more than ever, we all understand that people drivers far outweigh the financial drivers of a wellbeing program.
The focus on employee wellbeing has moved up the priority list, with employers far more aware of the need to support employees. The IBEC Wellbeing Report 2021, showed that there was 81% support at senior leadership for wellbeing. The same report also highlighted that 65% of those surveyed had a dedicated team or individual for wellbeing. (1)
However, before we talk about why we should engage in a wellbeing program as an employer, let’s first talk about why it’s important in the first place.
So why is a workplace program important?
- The Dept. of Health have outlined in the Healthy Workplace Framework the impact of the workplace on employees. They state: “the workplace directly influences the physical, mental, economic and social well-being of workers and, in turn, the health of their families, communities and society”. (2)
- This is supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) claim that workplace health programs are one of the best ways to prevent and control chronic disease, and also to support mental health. Consequently, it’s an ideal setting and infrastructure to support the promotion of health to a large audience.
- For fulltime employees approx. 60% of their total daily dietary intake in a working day could be consumed at work. Therefore, the workplace has the potential to significantly impact healthy eating practices and therefore employee health and wellbeing.
Let’s look at the benefits for employers
So why as an Employer would you engage in a wellbeing program?
Many organisations link wellbeing with absenteeism, and that’s understandable. In 2019, CIPD showed that absenteeism for Irish organisations remained a challenge with over 20% reporting an increase in absenteeism rates in the previous 12 months. Over a quarter of organisations reported an absenteeism rate of between 6% and 9%, which poses a significant cost for companies. (3).
In the UK, up to 10% of absence and productivity losses are potentially due to lifestyle behaviours. The costs of these losses are likely to be offset by the costs of implementing health programs. In an organisation employing 1000 people, this could translate to a loss of more than £126,000 a year in lost productivity. (5)
Studies show businesses lose 11 million workdays due to it each year, costing the Irish economy €1.5 billion. (6)
People drivers can be equally as important!
For businesses, having healthy employees has clear financial benefits, particularly when linked to absenteeism. However, people drivers also need to be given consideration. An employee health program that helps employees to adopt behaviours to improve their health is clearly beneficial.
Employees spend the majority of their time in the workplace. Linking wellness goals with work life balance is a mission vital to driving overall business outcomes. Especially when you consider that the majority of us will spend over a third of our adult life at work!
So, while a healthy workplace has benefits economically for a business, there are also key people related benefits too.
Key people related benefits for a Employee Wellbeing Program:
1. Increased energy and productivity – There are lots of reasons for inactivity, including poor health, lack of energy and some reasons could be down to poor lifestyle choices or low morale. Healthy employees can physically perform better, because they have more energy. Educating employees about nutrition and lifestyle choices and that what you put in your body can help with energy levels and motivation.
2. Better staff retention – Investment in a wellness program for employees, shows that employers care about their most valuable asset – their workforce. A study in the UK by Westfield Health said that businesses that invested in corporate wellbeing programs are 4 times more likely to retain employees than those who don’t.(7)
3. Prevents burn out among employees – Educating employees around stress management and giving them practical tools to help manage stress levels, can enable them to find coping mechanisms that enhance their lives. This is a much better solution for the long term, rather than turning to alcohol or other stimulants as a support.
4. Brings teams together and boost morale – Teams that engage in wellness initiatives together outside and inside work have a shared purpose, which builds camaraderie and builds team spirit. 74% of employees stated that knowing their employer is committed to wellbeing would make them more motivated at work.(8)
While some organisations may only consider absenteeism, an IBEC report on workplace trends in 2019, showed that key business objectives like engagement, retention and satisfaction are also assessed.(9)
A healthy workforce is more engaged and productive, with less sickness related absenteeism and greater employee retention. Investing in your employees brings additional benefits, making health and wellbeing part of your company’s overall package is common sense. By supporting a healthy approach for employees at work you are investing in your company’s future health too.
- IBEC, 2021. Wellbeing Report 2021. [online] Dublin. Available at: <https://www.ibec.ie/-/media/documents/connect-and-learn/research/wellbeing-2021/wellbeing-barometer-report-2021.pdf> .
- Gov.ie. 2019. Healthy Workplaces. [online] Available at: <https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/93daf8-healthy-workplaces/#> .
- CIPD. HR Practices in Ireland Survey 2019 [Internet]. Dublin: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development; 2019. Available from: https://www.cipd.ie/news-resources/reports/hr-practices-ireland-survey/2019-stress-absenteeismAbsenteeism in the Workplace https://www.peninsulagrouplimited.com/ie/guides/absenteeism/
- CIPD. CIPD HR Practices in Ireland Survey 2021 [Internet]. Dublin: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development; 2021. Available from: https://www.cipd.ie/news-resources/reports/hr-practices-ireland-survey/2021#95409
- Long Term Conditions Compendium of Information: Third Edition, Department of Health 2012.
- Absenteeism in the Workplace https://www.peninsulagrouplimited.com/ie/guides/absenteeism/
- 7 Most Important Reasons to invest in employee wellbeing at work https://www.wellsteps.com/blog/2020/01/02/employee-well-being-at-work
- Why invest in employee wellbeing : https://www.wefitter.com/why-invest-employees-wellbeing/
- IBEC. HR Update 2019: Key pay and workplace trends [Internet]. IBEC; 2019. Available from: https://www.ibec.ie/-/media/documents/employer-hub/hr-leadership/ibec-hr-update-2019-key-pay-and-trends.pdf