WHY IMPLEMENT A WORKPLACE
WELLBEING PROGRAM?

WHAT IS A WORKPLACE WELLBEING PROGRAM? 


Traditional workplace wellbeing programs include basic health and safety measures; ergonomic assessments of employee workstations; the provision of healthcare/benefits packages and/or some other aspect of lifestyle health promotion, usually in the form of exercise and dietary interventions. Mental health management that addresses stress, depression and anxiety is also quickly becoming a focal point within most wellness programs.  


Those who improve upon this may also offer a combination of the following:  
● Cycle to work schemes. 
● Subsidised or free gym membership. 
● In-house fitness classes (strength, spin, yoga, pilates etc.) 
● In-house stress services (massage, meditation, counselling, therapy etc). 
● Company-sponsored sports and social clubs. 
● Health education opportunities for; nutrition; physical activity and stress management; health awareness; sleep hygiene; resilience; self-esteem; weight control; and alcohol use (although these are less common). 

 

Workplace wellbeing promotion can be defined as: “The combined efforts of employers, employees and society to improve the health and wellbeing of people at work”.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A CHANGING LANDSCAPE FOR WORK


Workstyle preferences are changing, with a rise in flexible working hours, working from home, the gig economy, and the technologically-aided start-up culture. Businesses are finding it difficult to attract and retain talent, as
well as compete in terms of work-life balance, health, happiness, and productivity. Employers have to
consistently work hard to stand out from the crowd and statistics show that young applicants are caring more
about their own health and wellbeing than mere financial incentives nowadays:

 

The global COVID-19 pandemic and the government-imposed lockdowns have accelerated this already
changing landscape of work. With a large proportion of employees being forced to work from home and set up
home offices. Interestingly, according to a Europe-wide employee survey, whilst workers are more fearful
about the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, most have reported an increase in productivity,
decision making, work/life balance, and somewhat counterintuitively, communication and

collaboration! On the other hand, morale and motivation seem to have taken a downturn.

 

 

 

ABSENTEEISM


Missing work due to poor health is an ever-present challenge within the UK labour market, which has direct
and indirect costs to employers through reduced productivity, performance and competitiveness. Not only this,
but since the majority of sickness is directly linked to work and the majority of most employees’ waking
hours are spent in the workplace, employers have a more explicit duty of care for their employees than ever
before.

 

Of the 141 million days that have been lost due to absenteeism, the top 4 reasons are:

 

  • Minor illness - 27.2%

  • Musculoskeletal Problems - 19.7%

  • “Other” (Infection, Accidents, Poisoning, etc) - 13.7%

  • Stress, Depression & Anxiety - 12.4%

PRESENTEEISM & LEAVEISM

These relatively new terms, presenteeism (working when unwell) and leaveism (taking annual leave to work, or working on sick leave), are becoming a significant pathological feature of the workplace.

Definitions

  • Presenteeism is the act of showing up to work sick, injured, overly fatigued or otherwise not operating at normal levels of productivity.

  • Leaveism is taking annual leave to work or working on sick leave 80% of UK employees admit to working when sick.

Prevalence

  • 80% of UK employees admit to working when sick. It’s estimated that 35 productive days are lost per worker each year due to presenteeism

  • 73% of UK businesses have observed some form of leaveism in the past 12 months


Causes

  • Unrealistic employer expectations/workloads

  • Peer pressure

  • Loyalty or job insecurity

  • Large workloads and understaffing


Outcomes

  • Increase risk of spreading illness and disease

  • Damage to mental health

  • Decrease in efficiency, effectiveness and productivity

  • Increased risk of unhealthy lifestyle choices, behaviours

THE COST OF POOR EMPLOYEE HEALTH

Poor employee health creates costs due to absences and loss of productivity, lost revenue, hiring of temporary
replacements, compensation, etc. In London, for example, an average-sized firm with 250 employees is
estimated to make a loss of around £250,000 annually due to sickness absence.


This cost can then be extrapolated out to the UK economy as a whole, demonstrating the scale of this issue.
The findings from the aforementioned Britain’s Healthiest Workplace Study, Vitality estimated that the total
cost of poor health to UK businesses is approximately £81 billion. Interestingly, the majority of this money was
lost due to costs from factors such as poor lifestyle choices and mental health (mainly induced by work-related
stress).

 

 

THE IMPACT OF IMPROVING EMPLOYEE HEALTH AND WELLBEING

In order to understand the problem, we need to define some terms, with one being “employee health and
wellbeing”. We have taken Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ and repurposed it to explain health and wellbeing
within the work-place (see image below). This gives us a framework that aligns the individual and company
goals. This allows progression and success to be set, measured and determined.


Starting with fundamental physical needs, minimal health standards and the absence of illness, we then move
onto optimisation of health, vitality, purpose, fulfilment, happiness and job satisfaction, both on an individual
level and throughout the company culture.

Employee wellbeing can be defined as a process in which an individual is able (i.e., has the potential) to
achieve or be actively working toward optimal functioning in one or more of the environmental, physical,
psychological, social, or spiritual domains of life in accordance with his or her deeply-held values.

Understanding the Influence of the Individual

If we view each individual as a node in a complex network, we can appreciate the potential impact of the individual on the whole. We believe that providing the support necessary for each individual to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing will radiate into the wider community, culture, society and environment.

Aligning the Individual with the Company

In an ideal world, all employees within a company will be pulling in the same direction. Aligning the goals of
the individual with the company goals is crucial for success and longevity. We would argue that providing a
corporate-sponsored wellness program can help create the necessary foundation of a healthy, productive
and focused workforce.

ACCESS THE FULL VERSION

This article contains information taken from our whitepaper, titled 'WHY IMPLEMENT A WORKPLACE WELLBEING PROGRAM? The benefits to businesses, what to look for, and why now is the right time'. 

To access the full, 26-page PDF report then click here.

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