Employers are now beginning to see that there is a link between work-related stress and a variety of physical and mental disorders. This is despite of the difficulty in proving this due to the fact that the majority of disorders that occur as a result of stress can also have alternative causes. The effects of work-related stress on ill-health can be found in physiological, cognitive, emotional and behavioural ways. Because of this many employers are now beginning to take both the mental and the physical wellness of their employees more seriously. Listed below are 5 quite obvious benefits this can have on your company.
- It will save you money. Did you know absenteeism through illness costs British business £14bn a year? And with the average British worker taking nine days’ sick leave annually, its no wonder the costs are so crippling. Smaller businesses in particular are feeling the sting due to crucial members being away from their post. Forward-looking companies are trying to deal with sickness before it becomes a problem by looking for ways in which they can improve employees’ health and morale. Initiatives in this area might focus on taking up exercise, eating more healthily, tackling mental health issues and raising awareness of the effects of alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
- It helps an ageing workforce. A particular consideration for a growing number of businesses is the ageing workforce. The number of people aged over 60 is forecast to increase by the end of the decade and, with the abolition of the fixed retirement age, growing numbers of people are choosing to continue working into their sixties and beyond. A combination of higher life expectancy and inadequate savings means that this trend is set to continue. Whereas this can be great for the business to maintain a stable and experienced workforce it can also present challenges to employers, one of the most significant being the health problems that accompany ageing. A wellness strategy incorporating an annual health screening could play an important role in minimising these.
- It will boost productivity. It is well established that a healthy workforce is also a productive one. British researchers have demonstrated that employees who exercise regularly perform better at work, manage their time better and are mentally sharper and creative. Encouraging staff to use cycle-to work schemes that allow people to buy a bike tax-free for commuting, or organising on-site fitness activities such as yoga or Pilates can pay dividends for the worker and company alike. Simple initiatives such as encouraging staff to take regular screen breaks, walk around the office and go outside for their lunch hour can help reduce tiredness and stress.
- It makes staff feel valued/loyal. Health and wellness schemes can make a significant contribution to a company’s morale, by making staff feel valued and appreciated. This in turn can lead to a reduction in absenteeism and staff turnover. According to research carried out by Investors in People, employees who feel their company does not care about their health and well-being are significantly more likely to look for a new job. Initiatives could include setting up an arrangement with a local gym through which staff can use the facilities at lower cost or running activities such as weight loss groups or company sports activities.
- It makes for a more effective workforce. Research from the University of Bristol found that employees who exercised regularly were generally happier, felt better about themselves and were more forgiving of their colleagues, creating a better atmosphere in the workplace. Nutrition too can make a significant contribution to a happy and motivated workplace, with healthy eating boosting energy, well-being and long-term health. Furthermore, according to a study in the journal Population Health Management, workers who eat unhealthily are highly likely to be much less productive in the workplace. Simple measures such as displaying information on healthy eating in dining areas, liaising with catering staff and organising talks by nutritionists and dieticians can make a significant difference.