More and more employers are taking action to provide a healthy environment for their staff, but it’s difficult to fully measure the effects of their workplace health and wellness programs.
If an employer knows how they can measure & review the effectiveness of their program, they are more inclined to introduce a health and wellbeing strategy.
Here are four tangible benefits a workplace health and wellbeing program can deliver (and how they can be evaluated):
#1 Reduced Absenteeism in Staff Who are Healthy and Feel their Employer Cares
Physically and mentally fit and healthy staff take fewer days off work. According to the Australian Human Resources Institute, Australian workers take off more sick days than most other countries - an average of nine days compared to just under seven days in Britain. To improve productivity, Australia’s employers need to reduce the number of ‘sickies’ its workers are taking.
Improving Physical Health to Reduce Sick Days
A PWC paper titled Working Towards Wellness: The Business Rationale reported that chronic disease is the main cause of lost work time in the population of working-age people. Chronic disease is tipped to continue to increase so, if employers can turn around the trend, the benefits can be substantial.
Many chronic diseases can be attributed to poor lifestyle decisions including smoking, a lack of exercise and poor nutrition.
A health program that targets these lifestyle choices can result in short-term benefits of reduced illness and the long-term benefit of fewer staff suffering chronic disease. Diabetes, coronary artery disease, hypertension and cancer will result in long periods off work to access treatment and regain their health.
Improving Mental Health & Feelings of Wellbeing Among Staff
Engaged and happy staff are less likely to take a day off work unnecessarily. An employee who is unhappy with their manager and feels the business doesn’t care about their wellbeing, won’t feel guilty about taking ‘a day off here and there’.
An Australian government Comcare report titled Effective Health and Wellbeing Programs cites the link between worker mental health and unaddressed workplace factors including:
· poor workplace culture
· ineffective managers
· lack of work satisfaction
· work repetition
· work overload
· poor work-life balance
· peer conflict, and
· bullying and harassment
A cultural change program that works to reduce these problems in the business can reduce the rate of absenteeism.
The number of employee sick days is a statistic that is already calculated by most organisations. Using this as a yardstick for the success or failure of a wellness program is quick and easy for organisations.
#2 Reduced Staff Turnover
The cost of replacing one staff member can run into the thousands of dollars. Advertising, recruitment agent fees, training, and time for the new staff members to learn the role costs organisations of all sizes.
Increasing the length of time the average employee spends working for the organisation has a significant positive effect on the bottom line.
A successful health and wellbeing program can create happier staff who feel valued in the workplace. Happy staff are less likely to look for another job, so organisations retain staff for longer, saving the turnover costs and keeping the knowledge in-house.
Staff turnover is another statistic that is routinely kept by most HR staff and can be used to evaluate the success of a health and wellbeing program.
#3 Increased Productivity
Poor productivity due to illness, or low levels of wellness, is a hidden cost for most organisations and is likely to be far greater than any realise. A further Comcare study, draws upon global research and reports direct, positive links between the implementation of wellness programs and improved productivity. For instance, programs that have served to increase physical activity and improve general nutrition and diet, have been shown to directly impact absenteeism and productivity. When employees are at work, but not fully well and functioning, it may cost between 3 and 4 times more than that of absenteeism.
#4 Happy Employees Provide Positive Reviews and Boost Your Brand
Staff who feel valued and engaged at work are much more likely to speak highly of their employer, both informally to friends and online. Prospective employees will do their research when considering a new role. They will ask around if anyone has had any dealings with a company or department or look online for reviews. On job search websites, current and past employees can give a rating out of 5 and comment on the ‘good things and the challenges’ of their workplace.
Poor workplace reviews will reduce the number and quality of applications received for a vacant role. A lack of quality applicants will lead to skill gaps and unfilled positions that have a very real cost to the organisation.
Monitoring the reviews staff leave on job websites is a good indication of how employees feel about the organisation.
Negative word of mouth can impact the value of an organisation’s brand. What staff and communities say about an organisation in the community impacts on the value of the brand. Conversely, glowing reviews of a positive and healthy workplace will attract more talent and increase retention of your current employees.
Evaluating Health and Wellbeing Programs in Australian Workplaces
A workplace health and wellbeing strategy can pay dividends for your business. More staff at work more often, doing more productive work. On average, an organisation saves $5.81 for every $1 invested in employee health and wellbeing.
A program that offers staff fitness activities, a good work environment, addresses cultural problems, provides information on diet, and a quality EAP counselling service will all contribute to the happiness and productivity of your employees.
Use a combination of statistics and staff surveys to measure the success of your program and to identify areas that can be improved.
If you have any queries about how to implement or evaluate a health and wellbeing program at your workplace, call a professional from PeopleSense by Altius on (08) 9388 9000 or 1300 307 912.
Chapman, L.S 2007, Proof Positive. An Analysis of the Cost Effectiveness of Worksite Wellness, Seattle: Chapman Institute, cited in HAPIA, Best-Practice Guidelines: Workplace Health in Australia, 15 July 2011, http://www.hapia.com.au/index.html
World Economic Forum, in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers 2008, Working Towards Wellness: The Business Rationale, cited in Workplace wellness in Australia - Aligning action with aims: Optimising the benefits of workplace wellness 2010, https://www.usc.edu.au/media/3121/WorkplaceWellnessinAustralia.pdf
Comcare 2011, Benefits to Business: The Evidence for Investing in Worker Health and Wellbeing, cited in Comcare: Creating Mentally Healthy Workplaces 2017, https://www.comcare.gov.au/promoting/Creating_mentally_healthy_workplaces/the_healthy_worker