More businesses are investing in their health and wellbeing strategy because of the numerous benefits it has on their employees’ mental and physical health. But some owners may still question whether it’s really necessary.
A Comcare study found health and wellbeing programs have an excellent return on investment, saving just under $6 for every $1 invested. With some industries such as mining, experiencing a much higher ROI. So how do health initiatives benefit a workplace and why does your business need a wellbeing strategy?
#1 Reduced Sick Leave
The bill for sick leave in Australian workplaces is $7 billion per annum. Most non-casual Australian workers are entitled to 10 days of paid sick and carer's leave per year. Colds and flu are the leading cause of short-term absences. Offering the annual flu shot and encouraging workers to stay away from work when unwell so they don’t pass it on to their colleagues can reduce sick leave. If a business can reduce the average number of sick days employees take, the cost savings are enormous.
#2 Show Workers the Business Cares
Retaining good staff is important to businesses of all sizes. The recruitment costs, lost productivity, training requirements and lost experience all take away from the bottom line. Health and wellbeing initiatives can make an employee feel valued and appreciated by their employer. They are less likely to look for a new role elsewhere and the business can reduce its turnover rate and benefit from a stable group of employees.
Employees may even place a dollar value on the work-provided activities such as not having to pay for a gym membership or weekly yoga classes. If they don’t have to take fruit to work because it’s supplied, the savings all add up.
Recruitment websites welcome employees to leave a rating of their employer which can influence the number and quality of applications a business receives when advertising a vacant role. A survey showed one third of candidates won’t apply for a job if the employer has less than a three-star rating. By making employees feel cared, they are more likely to provide a positive review, which ultimately helps your recruitment process.
#3 Increased Productivity
When a business increases the output from the same number of employees on a continual basis, it can greatly improve its gross margin. If the workplace provides a lunch-time activity that involves exercise and fresh air, workers are more likely to return to their desk ready to work. Getting the blood pumping and increasing serotonin levels with exercise makes a person feel upbeat and energetic, it sparks creativity and allows the brain to reset after a hard morning of work.
By engaging in exercise, workers can take their mind off work for half an hour or so, which helps to reduce stress levels, help with depression and improve sleep at night. This contributes to improved productivity and gives staff the greatest chance of succeeding in their job.
#4 Reduce Stress Levels & Improve Mental Health
A health and wellbeing strategy puts mental health at the forefront of workers’ minds. Reducing the stigma that’s often associated with mental health helps the whole community. This makes it easier for people to talk about and seek professional help when they need it.
A worker’s compensation claim for a mental health problem is likely to be longer and cost more than another worker recovering from a physical injury. Educating workers on how to reduce their stress levels and how to ask colleagues for help when they’re struggling to cope all contributes to a mentally healthy workforce. Providing meditation, tai chi, yoga or massages can help with stress reduction. Offering an Employee Assistance Program also gives workers the ability to access a confidential counselling service at no cost to them.
#5 Better Physical Health
Many physical illnesses are caused or exacerbated by lifestyle factors. A health and wellbeing strategy can include activities designed to improve the physical health of workers. Teaching people about nutrition and meal preparation and providing healthy snacks in the staff room can help reduce the rate of obesity and contributing factors of chronic disease. Healthy workers are more likely to be more productive, take fewer sick days, be able to work full-time for longer and retire later in life than those who are obese or struggling with health problems.
Offering free health screenings and risk assessments can alert workers to high blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels well before they would have visited their GP. Early detection allows them to make lifestyle changes to reduce their long-term risks.
#6 Improved Culture
The culture within an organisation is a contributing factor to workplace stress. Poor interpersonal relations or a lack of respect for workers can mean an unhealthy workplace culture.
When staff go to work each day and have little interaction with colleagues on a personal level, the culture of the organisation is unlikely to be positive. If staff are attending exercise at lunch time or a workshop on meal preparation, they’re likely to be talking about their personal lives, hobbies and getting to know each other on a different level. Staff who have close connections with their colleagues are likely to enjoy work more and perform better as a team.
If your organisation needs assistance with developing a health and wellbeing strategy to suit your employees, call PeopleSense by Altius on 1300 307 912 or contact us online.