The bottom line on workplace wellbeing

Kevin Rogers, CEO, Paycare explains why financial organisations must take staff wellbeing seriously

Insurance Investorposted on Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The world of workplace wellbeing has been turned on its head over the past year – focusing on the physical, mental, financial and emotional health of staff should never have been an ‘optional extra’ for HR and management teams, but now it’s become obvious just how important it is to have a happy and healthy workforce.

It’s not just the individual benefitting from this renewed vigour around workplace wellbeing. There are numerous benefits seen time after time by businesses who adopt policies and practices centred around health.

Healthy employees take less time off sick

Each employee takes an average of 5.8 days of sickness leave per year – this number can be reduced through carefully-thought out policies which promote early detection and intervention of illnesses, meaningful support for those with long-term conditions, and assistance in the case of injury.

“Each employee takes an average of 5.8 days of sickness leave per year”

Introducing mental health assistance alone sees sickness absence fall in a third of companies. This is far more preferable than the alternative: creating a culture where employees feel they must come to work even if they are unwell.

While on the surface this approach may look to be beneficial for the company in question, in actual fact presenteeism has an even more damaging impact when it comes to business revenue: costing the UK economy £15.1billion each year.

Increased productivity and loyalty

In workplaces where mental health is addressed, productivity rises by 12%, while more than half of companies also see engagement and morale rise. And this translates to visible and substantial benefits when it comes to weighing up the financial costs too: for every £1 a company invests in employee mental health, they can expect to see £5 back in reduced absence, presenteeism and staff turnover.

“In workplaces where mental health is addressed, productivity rises by 12%”

Companies not yet realising the importance of workplace wellbeing are not only losing good employees to other firms, one in every eight people leaving the labour market does so because of ill health.

Those dismissing the importance of healthcare perks might also find themselves missing out on top applicants – a third consider wellbeing benefits as a top priority when considering whether to accept a job offer.

Has the pandemic really changed employee health benefits?

A staggering 92% of businesses say they have increased their emphasis on mental health since the start of the pandemic, while 83% are more focused on general wellbeing, 70% on work/life balance, 55% on physical health and 44% on financial wellbeing.

Long-term working from home for many companies has forced a shift in the way they structure their teams, meetings, days, and the future of their wellbeing strategy.

It’s expected by mental health experts that we will see the emotional repercussions of Covid-19 for many years to come – which is why many businesses are acting now to build a metaphorical safety net for all of those extra employees who will sadly be diagnosed with mental ill health as a by-product of the pandemic.

What should a wellbeing strategy include?

To prove truly impactive, a formalised wellbeing strategy should be implemented to ensure consistency of offering across the business, and ease of communication about perks and benefits to existing and potential staff, as well as external stakeholders and clients.

A wellbeing strategy should protect the emotional, mental, physical and financial wellbeing of every member of the team.

Naturally, employees should be supported through any specific problems which arise, but the strategy should also focus on preventing issues and making health and wellness a priority at all times, not just when a specific team member is experiencing an issue.

“To prove truly impactive, a formalised wellbeing strategy should be implemented to ensure consistency of offering across the business”

The strategy should cover the benefits offered to employees such as health cash plans, gym passes, healthy snacks, access to a virtual GP, or workplace counselling. But just as important are the other factors: what health and wellbeing training can they access? What’s the flexible working policy? Who do they go to if they need support? What happens if they need to see a health professional during the working day? Can adjustments be made if health conditions are making certain aspects of their job more difficult for them?

The bottom line

A well-thought-out strategy offering effective benefits focused around all aspects of employee health (physical, emotional, mental, and financial) has been shown to reduce absenteeism, presenteeism, and absence leave, while simultaneously increasing loyalty, staff retention, and productivity.

The bottom line is that investment in staff wellbeing isn’t just good for them, it’s good for business.

 

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