Healthy Staff = Healthy Business

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Healthy Staff = Healthy Business

The cost of ill health in the workplace is high and is rapidly becoming an issue that employers can no longer afford to ignore. The poor health of the workforce is a cost to employers through both increased absenteeism and lowered job performance. An effective workplace well-being programme can deliver mutual benefit to people, organisations, economies and communities. When people are happy and well, businesses can thrive and societies flourish. Work should do more than meet our basic financial needs and contribute to economic growth; it should also improve the quality of our lives by giving us meaning and purpose and contributing to our overall well-being. The cost of ill health in the workplace is high and is rapidly becoming an issue that employers can no longer afford to ignore. The poor health of the workforce is a cost to employers through both increased absenteeism and lowered job performance. • The HSE estimates that musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are responsible for 9.5 million lost working days per year. • Approximately 13.8 million working days lost per year due to work-related stress, depression and anxiety and this is on the rise. • Employees suffering from stress are also more likely to report depression and other psychosomatic complaints, resulting in greater need for recovery due to exhaustion and fatigue compared to workers without high level of work-related stress. • Research shows that smokers cost employers 64 minutes a day in lost productivity. Estimating the actual costs of these illnesses can be difficult. High level estimates suggest that stress and back pain are costly conditions, costing the British economy £3.7 billion and £5 billion per year respectively. Accidents and injuries are estimated to cost an additional £512 million annually. The 30 million working days lost in the UK due to occupational illness and injury cost the economy £30 billion, approximately 3% of the GDP. According to the Confederation of British Industry, sickness absence can cost roughly £495 per employee per year, which can be a particularly high costs for small and medium enterprises. The costs of presenteeism, defined as reduced performance and productivity due to health while at work, are more difficult to measure. According to a US study, presenteeism is actually more costly than absenteeism, costing approximately two to three times more than direct health costs incurred as a result of illness.19 While hard data on the costs of presenteeism in the UK is unavailable at this time, preliminary evidence suggests that presenteeism could cost employers 2 to 7 times more than absenteeism. For many employers, the costs of ill health, which, given the ageing population and the increase in chronic disease will only grow in the absence of intervention, is enough to justify a comprehensive wellness scheme. An effective workplace well-being programme can deliver mutual benefit to people, organisations, economies and communities. When people are happy and well, businesses can thrive and societies flourish. Work should do more than meet our basic financial needs and contribute to economic growth; it should also improve the quality of our lives by giving us meaning and purpose and contributing to our overall well-being. The fast-changing world of work and the fluctuating demands it places on employers and employees means that our grasp of health and well-being needs can never stand still. It needs to evolve constantly to understand the impact on people’s health and well-being. An increase in workforce age and change in its composition leading to employee expectations of wellness programmes and work-life balance initiatives. Rising costs of chronic disease and ill-health are having an impact on businesses of all sizes and therefore it is important that we, as employers take action to alleviate this. Many employers are not yet embracing the health and well-being agenda to full effect. Investing in employee well-being can lead to increased resilience, reduced sickness absence and higher performance and productivity. Put simply - it makes good business sense and does not need to be expensive.
About the Author

Having worked within HR Management for 19 years, in 2013 Kelly wanted to make better use of her skills and knowledge by adding value within the SME arena. Kelly believes that whilst people management and the resulting transactional tasks are an essential part of any business, they can be time consuming and unrewarding, so another passion of hers is to release this burden from smaller businesses and allow them to get on with their passion – their business!
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