“Workplace wellness” is a relatively new term. It only came into use in the 1980s. And it wasn’t until the start of the new millennium that it developed into a well-recognized concept in the corporate world. Equally, the notion of fitness as something tied to business is a recent phenomenon.
So what has prompted this move towards fitness and wellbeing among corporations both large and small? In a word, research. In the last two decades, a host of studies have demonstrated the economic and social benefits of employee wellbeing and fitness.
And while the picture is still somewhat incomplete and research is still emerging, many organizations have responded by implementing wellness initiatives. This post will explore five key benefits of employee well-being programs and how they can benefit businesses and workforces of all shapes and sizes.
What is Workplace Wellness?
Workplace wellness is a holistic approach to managing and promoting employee’s mental, physical and social health. Traditionally, corporations were only concerned with handling physical illnesses and injuries acquired in the workplace. However, in the last two decades, this approach has been challenged. As a result, a more nuanced, multifaceted model has emerged.
Workplace wellness and fitness programmes tend to encompass three main areas:
- Health and safety regulations stipulated by law.
- Management of injuries and illnesses, both short- and long-term.
- Prevention of adverse health outcomes.
Prevention programmes, which encompass a wide array of health areas, represent a significant innovation of traditional models. And when the term “workplace wellness” is used, it is usually in relation to this aspect of a company’s broader approach to employee well-being.
1. Lower Levels of Employee Absence
On average, businesses that implement well-being and fitness programs reduce absenteeism by between 30% and 40%. The link between high levels of fitness and lower incidences of illnesses and injuries is well-established. People who engage in regular physical activity are at significantly lower risk of acute (short-term) and chronic illnesses.
Sick days represent a major liability to businesses. In the UK alone, absenteeism costs the economy tens of billions every year. Reducing the amount of time off that employees take off is a benefit that translates directly into financial savings.
What’s more, employees who are mentally well are likely to spend more time at work, motivated to complete their projects.
2. Higher Levels of Productivity
Employee fitness and well-being programs improve workforce productivity across several metrics.
Companies that have implemented initiatives have reported a reduction in the number of mistakes employees make and an increase in utilization rates. “Utilization” is essentially a measure of an individual’s “productive” time. If, for example, a working week consists of forty hours, and an employee works productively for twenty of those hours, their utilization rate is 50%.
Companies that effectively boost productivity can often shorten the working week, or allow for greater flexibility in employee’s schedules, both of which can positively affect mental well-being even further.
3. Increased Staff Retention Rates
Staff retention is a growing problem in the corporate space. It has become more commonplace for professionals to move between different careers in recent years, often only spending several years with a particular employer.
From the perspective of businesses, staff “churn” is problematic. Recruitment and training represent sizeable costs. What’s more, essential positions that require highly skilled and qualified individuals can be challenging to fill.
Employee wellness programs reduce staff turnover. When staff members are happy in a role, something that well-being initiatives help ensure, they are less likely to seek employment elsewhere. Equally, an innovative well-being program will make a company more attractive to potential candidates, many of whom will likely place workplace culture and benefits high on their lists of priorities.
4. Lower Numbers of Employee Accidents and Compensation Claims
Implementing “health and safety” legislation has traditionally been considered the primary way organisations can avoid accidents and injuries. But research shows that employees that are physically and mentally well are more likely to avoid accidents. On average, companies report a 50% reduction in injuries after implementing wellness programmes.
This fact is important because it means that businesses can make an assortment of savings. On the one hand, a lower incidence of accidents means that employees will take fewer days off. On the other, the number of insurance claims, and consequently corporate premiums, will also decrease.
5. Proven Return on Investment (ROI)
The ROI (return on investment) of employee well-being programs can be difficult to measure. And while a growing body of research points to the efficacy of well-being and fitness programs, most studies relate to “intermediate benefits”.
Intermediate benefits are measurable in concrete terms but do not in and of themselves signify a monetary return on investment. As a consequence, many employers have viewed wellness programs as pleasant additions rather than core components of an effective human resources (HR) strategy.
More information about financial returns, however, is being published. And it points towards a significant ROI, in some cases as high as six to one.
Are You Passionate About Well-being and Fitness in Business?
Are you passionate about driving greater levels of well-being in the corporate world? Perhaps you envision yourself in a leadership role at a large enterprise? Or at the head of a startup that prioritises its employees’ mental and physical health?
If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then a degree from EU Business School will provide you with all the skills, practical experience and in-depth understanding you need to thrive in your chosen space. You’ll study directly with some of the world’s leading business minds and gain access to a network of like-minded, ambitious and hard-working individuals.
Take a look at our wide selection of Bachelor’s, Master’s and MBA programs and learn about our European campuses, all of which are located in international business hubs. Many of our courses are also available online.