Health and wellness has long been recognized as important within leading companies’ human resources departments. However, it isn’t just a human resources issue—it’s a business imperative. The relationship between employee health and business outcomes is symbiotic, impacting productivity, absenteeism, turnover, healthcare costs, and more. GlobalConnect® recognized the importance of employee health and wellness for its clients, and created The Right Choice…for a Healthier You® health and wellness program more than a decade ago. Led by its staff dietitian, and centered around nutritional guidelines and employee education and resources, GlobalConnect’s program helps its clients’ employees make healthier choices.
Benefits of Healthy Employees
The advantages of having healthy employees are readily apparent in the bottom line, although this may not be immediately recognized until the health of employees begins to decline. A healthy workforce is more engaged, productive, and creative.
● Increased Productivity: Healthy employees typically have higher energy levels, better focus, and improved cognitive abilities—leading to enhanced productivity. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that health-related productivity loss costs employers two to three times more than annual healthcare expenses.
● Reduced Absenteeism: Good health translates to fewer sick days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that productivity losses linked to absenteeism cost employers $225.8 billion annually in the U.S.
● Less Employee Turnover: Healthy employees are generally happier and more satisfied, reducing turnover rates. Replacing an employee can cost a company anywhere from six to nine months’ salary on average, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). They offer some great advice for developing a strong retention strategy to reduce turnover rates.
Impact of Unhealthy Employees
Conversely, unhealthy employees can pose significant challenges:
● Lower Productivity: Poor health can lead to decreased performance or “presenteeism,” where employees show up to work but are not fully productive due to health issues.
● Higher Healthcare Costs: Unhealthy employees can lead to increased healthcare expenses. According to a study by the Milken Institute, chronic diseases alone cost the U.S. economy more than $1 trillion annually.
● Increased Absenteeism: Health problems often result in more sick days, impacting business operations and team morale.
It’s important to note that these impacts can vary based on factors such as business type, employee demographics, and occupational hazards.
Promoting Employee Health
Many companies have instituted their own health and wellness programs, or are partnering with their insurance providers or food service partners to offer comprehensive programs. While cost is a factor that varies depending on implementation, the business return on employee health still proves to be a smart investment. GlobalConnect’s program is built in to all of its breakroom services—vending, micro markets, office coffee and water, and dining services—and is free of charge to all clients.
Other ways companies can promote and support employee health include:
● Implement Wellness Benefits: Wellness benefits can range from offering gym memberships or on-site exercise facilities to providing healthy snacks in the office and more.
● Promote Work-Life Balance: Encourage employees to take time off when needed, and discourage after-hours work to prevent burnout.
● Create a Safe and Healthy Work Environment: This includes ergonomic workspaces, regular breaks, and maintaining clean and safe workspaces. Case studies have shown the effectiveness of these strategies. For instance, Johnson & Johnson’s wellness program reportedly saved the company $250 million on health care costs over a decade.
Investing in employee health is not just beneficial, but essential for business. By fostering a culture of health, companies can enjoy increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and lower healthcare costs, ultimately boosting their bottom line.