Corporates Incorporate Employee Wellbeing to Improve Bottom Lines

Research shows that more than 75 percent of high-performing companies measure health status as a viable component of their overall risk management strategy.

Corporates are taking a more holistic approach to the wellbeing of workers rather than just providing good benefits. Workplaces and the benefits offered by new-age companies, especially in the technology sector, have changed the way corporates and companies look at employee wellbeing and welfare. The new-age companies encouraged employee engagement and retention in the companies by offering stock options. But this was found to fall short of employee expectations. For a fully engaged and invested staff, organizations needed to show that they cared for the person as a whole and not only his economic stakes. It was no longer about providing just health insurance benefits.

Employee engagement and wellbeing results in better outcomes for companies in terms of performance, production, and revenue is a well-documented fact. Companies now budget for efficient workplaces with places to relax, exercise, play, and eat as an essential part of the layout. There are counselors on call; employees are encouraged to look after their mental health, and stress is recognized as a factor influencing a person’s well-being and ability to function.

According to The World Green Building Council report on Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices, there is clear evidence that office design impacts productivity output and staff morale. Wellbeing is a critical element in any office design strategy.

A healthy and satisfied workforce directly influences work behavior, attendance, and on-the-job performance. Well run companies understand the human-capital contribution to the bottom line. Research shows that more than 75 percent of high-performing companies measure health status as a viable component of their overall risk management strategy.

Work and life-related stress burnout is a threat to a company’s bottom line, In the U.S., it costs more than $300 billion a year in absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity, and medical, legal, and insurance costs.

 A CIPD survey says that mental ill-health and stress were often cited as reasons for long-term absence from work and the main reasons that employees even quit work.

An international journal on worker’s healthcare found that counseling at work influences physical activity behavior amongst employees. Another Research from Gallup showed that already engaged employees experienced even higher performance outcomes when physical wellness programming was added to the mix.

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Employee Wellbeing: Do we really mean it?

Wellness is a $4.5 trillion global wellness economy. Wellness expenditures ($4.2 trillion) are more than half as massive as total global health expenditures ($7.3 trillion, based on WHO data). Workplace wellness was calculated at $48 billion in 2017, projected to grow to $97 billion in 2027.

The direct cost of poor health is estimated to be about 15% of payroll. The cost of coming to the office and not performing the job to full capacity i.e., presenteeismactually costs organizations even more than absenteeism. Direct healthcare and the cost of productivity lost to presenteeism can total between 25% and 35% of wages.

 Another study conducted by Harvard economists says that absenteeism costs fall by $2.73 for every dollar spent on the programs. Therefore, employees need to be encouraged to adopt a healthier lifestyle to improve their performance.

Learning from experience, many large companies are incorporating fundamental changes to keep employees healthy; In turn, companies are reaping higher productivity at a lower cost.

The shift is towards a more holistic approach to cover workers’ wellbeing. Wellness is not only about the health of an employee but the social determiners. Only 10 percent of wellness is defined by health; the rest 90 percent is taken up by lifestyle, genetics, your residence, social connects, education, socio-economic status, diet, etc.

To know a person holistically, one needs not only the medical history but the deeper determiners that define that person.

A panel of health industry experts at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego had this to say about staff wellbeing. “Wellness, yes, it’s about health,” said Jennifer Morgan, an SAP executive board member. “But wellness can be defined in many different ways, such as financial wellness.”

“Offering employees the flexibility to define their maternity or paternity leave is a good example of this shift in thinking,” said Qualtrics co-founder Jared Smith. Morgan agreed.

Freedom to determine the leave structure is an added benefit. Some just want to use part of the maternity or paternity leave and save the rest for emergency medical situations or similar events. Giving this kind of flexibility doesn’t hurt a company’s bottom line.

Organizations need to build an environment of trust and safety to ensure that workers’ wellbeing is a significant concern.

The matrices for employee wellbeing

Staff satisfaction, staff morale, staff retention, improved productivity, lower costs, a sustainable workforce, open communication, challenging work environment, and team spirit. All this is what makes employees feel secure and engaged.

Poor employee wellbeing can reduce engagement and morale, increase the need for compensatory hours of work, overstaffing, higher attrition rates, and sometimes even lead to workplace accidents. Employees with high levels of well-being not only cost their employers less but are also more productive and more engaged in their work.

1. Lead by example

A company where the chief executives are seen as invested in being healthy and seen taking advantage of the in-house facilities such as gyms, cycleways, relaxation rooms, etc. encourages the employees to believe that it is ok to be off the hook for some time, and one does not need to be busy all the time.

Many modern tech companies are known for their relaxed way of working, including Google and Accenture.

2. Set boundaries on working outside office work hours

In such a scenario, work out a convenient time that work emails or chats can be exchanged and the duration expected. Set a clear benchmark, with no exceptions.

3. Investment strategies

See that the health benefits are adjusted with the pension benefits and are not at odds with it. People are living longer, and their pension needs to last longer. Add to this the need for greater healthcare in old age. All this needs to be factored in when planning retirement and insurance benefits for employees.

Marvelle Berchtold, CEO of Marvelle Co., said using technology to transform worker health requires “indispensable” tools. “Companies would give out BlackBerrys, but the iPhone was so great that people would go out and buy a second phone,” she said. “That’s how we need to think about health care.”

4. Covid-19 Scenario

The pandemic has thrown the issue of employee wellbeing center stage again. The lockdown forced companies and employees to adapt to the work from home concept to stay abreast of work. Here again, worker engagement, screen and meeting fatigue, a life-work balance has to be kept in mind. Along with that, work security and pandemic anxiety add to the stress.

Post lockdown, with the companies opening up worker health, hygiene, worker, and employer liabilities, have all got to be worked into the equation. 

One thing sure is that work-life is set to change again and along with the human capital and risk management needs to be redefined.

The direct cost of poor health is estimated at about 15% of payroll. But the cost of presenteeism—being physically on the job but not performing due to poor wellbeing— actually costs organizations even more than absenteeism. Taken together, direct healthcare and the cost of productivity lost to presenteeism can be between 25% and 35% of wages. at rough estimates.

Employees with high levels of wellbeing not only cost their employers less, they are more productive and more engaged in their work as well. Various studies put the return on investment on higher well-being for employees at anywhere between 144 percent to 1000 percent.

Diana Coker
Diana Coker is a staff writer at The HR Digest, based in New York. She also reports for brands like Technowize. Diana covers HR news, corporate culture, employee benefits, compensation, and leadership. She loves writing HR success stories of individuals who inspire the world. She’s keen on political science and entertains her readers by covering usual workplace tactics.

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