Why is Employee Wellness Such a Key Focus for Businesses?

wellness programs

Like most people in the UK, you’ve probably taken a fair few undeserved sick days during your lifetime. Whilst this may seem relatively insignificant in the great scheme of things, it’s importance to consider the cost of absenteeism and the impact that it has in the typical workplace.

According to the 2016 CPD survey, it’s estimated that the average annual cost of sickness absence per employee equates to a whopping £522. This represents an average yearly loss of 6.3 working days for each employee per annum and offers an insight into why employee wellness has become such a key focus for businesses over time.

However, this represents just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the importance of employee wellness in the workplace, as this also impacts on everything from productivity to the cost of health insurance. We’ll explore this further below, whilst asking exactly how wellness programs for employees translate into a more profitable and efficient business.

1. Employees who Capitalise on Wellness Initiative are More Productive 

Let’s start with productivity, as various studies have revealed a strong correlation between regular physical activity and improved cognitive function.

More specifically, an active lifestyle is known to aid mental traits such as memory and focus, which are key skills when completing a range of tasks within the typical workplace.

One particular study showed that employees who participated in wellness programs whilst improving their overall lifestyle regained an average of 10.3 hours in productivity over the course of the year. This is an incredible statistic and one that can have an incredibly positive impact when its applied throughout your business.

Additional evidence also suggests that implementing workplace health and fitness programs can reduce the average sick leave, whilst also lowering disability insurance costs by around 25%.

2. Physically Active Employees are Healthier

On an even more fundamental level, employee wellness programs that encourage physical activity and challenge sedentary lifestyles can improve the overall wellbeing of a workforce.

This not only translates into a more productive and focused team of employees, but it may also make your staff members happier and far less likely to have extended absences from the workplace.

This has a wider societal impact too, with one study from 2012 suggesting that physical inactivity has become increasingly more deadly over time. This is linked to the rise of obesity in the UK, whilst it’s also becoming more costly and draining to the NHS than smoking (which is currently in decline).

Frequent exercise has also been linked directly to the reduced risk of multiple chronic diseases, meaning that healthy and active employees are more likely to work free from recurring pain and health issues.

3. Modern Wellness Programs Extend Beyond Physical Ailments

When discussing wellness and workplace absences, it’s important to note that stress and mental health issues are also key contributors.

Whether this relates to workplace stress or issues surrounding mounting debts or family problems, it’s important that contemporary wellness programs also take steps to safeguard each employee’s mental state of mind.

This is why companies are incorporating wellness initiatives into their range of employee benefits, including provisions that enable them to manage their debts, accumulate savings and make the most of their earned pay. This type of initiative can help employees to maintain good levels of mental wellness in a challenging economic climate, which sees the average person in the UK carry an average unsecured debt of £2,688.

For any business, the key is to create a diverse and detailed wellness initiative that targets both physical and mental wellbeing. By becoming preoccupied with physical wellness and fitness, you could end up ignoring the stark fact that stress, anxiety, and depression account for the vast majority of days lost through work-related ill health.