In 2014 over 4 million days were lost in Ireland due to absenteeism by small businesses alone. Annually, 11 million days are lost through absenteeism at a cost of €1.5bn. Improving employee wellbeing is in everyone’s best interest from the individual as well as the employers’ perspectives.
According to a recent survey, only one in three workers take the recommended level of exercise for a healthy lifestyle each week. Three in ten workers undertake no physical exercise during work time and just over a quarter (27%) describing themselves as fairly or very physically active. Given the considerable amount of time people spend in the workplace, it’s the ideal place to encourage healthier lifestyles amongst adults.
Traditionally, wellness in the workplace programmes are viewed as ‘a nice extra’ rather than ‘a strategic imperative3, yet research shows us that organisations that foster effective wellness programmes have lower voluntary attrition than those with low effective programmes. This reduces demands on recruiting, training and has a better effect on productivity. According to a new national survey of employees, seven in ten (69%) employees are more likely to stay longer with employers who show an interest in their health and wellbeing. What is possibly more revealing is that half would consider leaving employers who don’t.
Often when workplace wellbeing initiatives are analysed, they are examined from the perspective of return on investment. However a key benefit which is difficult to monetise, but still brings paybacks, is that of the opportunity to create a wellness culture within the organisation, as well as building employee pride, trust, and commitment. The primary characteristic of workplace wellness is trust between an employee and employer. Personal health is a private matter for individuals, however, by investing sensitively and appropriately in employee health, the psychological contract between employer and employee can be strengthened.
According to a recent study, about half of employers are trying to facilitate healthier lifestyles for their employees.
- Small Firms Association: Absence costs small business over €490 million per annum” report (2015)
- Results compared with similar nationwide study for NHF by Behaviour & Attitudes on a nationally representative sample of 18-65 year old people employed in the Republic of Ireland. The fieldwork was carried out from 28th October to 5th November 2014. A total of 1005 employees participated in the survey
- The research was conducted online by Behaviour & Attitudes on a nationally representative sample of 18-65 year old people employed in the Republic of Ireland. The fieldwork was carried out from 25th January to 2nd February 2016. A total of 996 employees participated in the survey.
- Berry,L.L, Mirabito, A.M., and Baun, W.B. (2010) What’s the Hard Return on Employee Wellness Programs? Harvard Business Review; December. https://hbr.org/2010/12/whats-the-hard-return-on-employee-wellness-programs