Healthy employees mean a healthy bottom line
It is no secret that the new generation of workers has very different expectations, aspirations and needs in the workplace than their predecessors. Research, as well as common sense, supports that the best and most productive workers in any organisation are motivated, healthy and balanced. They also tend to feel supported and appreciated by their employer.
Work/life balance and workplace wellbeing are increasingly common terms in business today. Employers are becoming more and more aware of the importance and benefits of looking after employee health and promoting a general sense of wellbeing in the office.
Several studies in 2005 have shown that longer working hours and mounting work loads have left more than half of the Australian workforce stressed. This has directly resulted in a considerable increase in stress-related compensation claims.
There are also the associated negative aspects of poor investment, morale, inconvenience and the stress involved with staff changes and the adaptations of new recruits. Its no wonder that absenteeism has become one of the major problems companies have to deal with today.
Stressed workers cost more
Healthy employees are almost three times more productive than unhealthy employees, who have been shown to take up to nine times more sick leave than their healthy colleagues.
When taking into consideration the effects that stress and disease have in the workplace and placing these in the bigger picture of staff wellbeing, three factors are identified as being most costly for companies:
1) Short-term absenteeism
2) lower productivity levels
3) high staff turnover.
Unhealthy lifestyles, stress and health problems can result in an increase in short-term absenteeism. A direct link between health & wellbeing, and the amount of annual days absent, has been established by a Medibank Private study. This equated to two sick days per year for healthy employees, versus 18 sick days per year for unhealthy employees.
It is understood that the financial loss to a company of losing a staff member can be up to double their annual salary. Many Employers of Choice are now seeking to implement a specifically designed workplace wellbeing program. They recognise that investing in employee wellbeing and maintaining staff loyalty will only increase their return on investment.
Australian companies large and small are now benefiting from staff wellbeing activities. Many find natural therapies the most appealing due to the vast range available and how well they can be adapted to all ages and interests. Massage in the workplace as well as yoga, meditation and tai chi sessions are particularly popular. Other services such as health checks, ergonomic workstation assessments, nutritional workshops and team building activities are also in high demand.
The importance of having healthy workers is undeniable. With benefits ranging from lowering of stress levels, improved concentration, increased morale and job satisfaction - and therefore staff retention – it will become an established part of all business in the future.
Sebastian Bomer is the Workplace Wellbeing Coordinator at Nature Care College, St Leonards. He also has a Bachelor of Naturopathy, Adv Dip Nutrition, Diploma of Herbal Medicine and Lymphatic Drainage and a Certificate in Remedial Massage.