A major study carried out by leading economists at the University of Warwick found that employee wellbeing can increase productivity by 12 percent. Conversely the researchers found that unhappy employees were up to 10 percent less effective.

To put it simply, happy, healthy employees are good for business.

It is unsurprising then, that employee health and wellbeing has moved into the top five of boardroom issues. Currently 81 percent of FTSE 100 companies are now undertaking an annual wellbeing programme.

Professor Oswald who led the Warwick research said: “Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%, they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.”

The business case for taking an active interest in employee wellbeing is clear and increasingly backed up by scientific studies.

BITC-commissioned research by IPSOS Mori discovered that companies taking proactive steps to promote wellbeing amongst their employees can improve their financial success by 10 percent.

“The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.” said Dr Sgroi another author of the Warwick research.

What is a modern, joined-up approach to employee health and wellbeing in the workplace?

  1. Carry out a health and wellbeing assessment of *your* business – Your company and your staff are unique. Find out your key issues. The demographics of your employees, nature of the work, layout of the workspace and business hours will all impact on the health and wellbeing needs of your employees in a way that is specific to your organisation.
  2. Bring in the experts – This might be a new area to you, but there are plenty of people (including us) who have been doing this for many years. Don’t be afraid to call on professional organisations and bodies such as occupational health, counsellors, physiotherapists, etc. for help and support. It can make all the difference.
  3. Consider the facts – The Lancet warned just last year that by 2025 one-third of British adults would be obese. Your company can work now to prevent this crisis from ever occurring by taking steps to ensure that whatever your working environment you help your employees to maintain a healthy weight and activity levels. We also have an ageing workforce which means there will be a huge increase in people living and working with chronic conditions, by 2030 the number of people living with cancer is expected to hit 1.7 million. Putting in place proper practices now, will help your organisation down the line.
  4. Talk about it – In 2013/14 11.3 million working days were lost due to mental illness issues such as depression, anxiety or stress. Mental health is a significant contributor to absenteeism that is, unfortunately, stigmatized and seen as an almost insurmountable challenge for employers, because every case is unique. Working with mental health experts, however. can result in excellent employee assistance programs. With occupational health support and resilience training employees can effectively manage their mental health alongside their job.
  5. Use the right tools for the job – Carrying out regular and adequate assessments of the working environment is essential in the prevention of musculoskeletal and back care issues. Be sure that your employees have correct and working equipment and tools for the job. Provide them with appropriate posture or lifting advice and consider offering onsite physiotherapy. In this area, prevention really is better than cure.
  6. Get active – Government advice is for us all to walk at least 10,000 steps a day. and sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time has been likened to smoking in its negative impact on our health. In primarily sedentary working environments it can be difficult to get active, but not impossible. Employers can encourage or subsidise gym memberships, allow longer lunch breaks for people to take an exercise class or provide access to an onsite shower to encourage mid-day runs. You could also sign up to the lunchtime mile campaign or promote standing meetings, among many other initiatives.

If this seems daunting, don’t despair, there’s plenty of support out there. Soma Health have covered several of these topics in more detail here on our site. There are professional bodies and organisations available to offer further expert support, don’t be afraid to seek advice.

The evidence is clear. Dr Proto, the third contributor to the Warwick research said “We have shown that happier subjects are more productive, the same pattern appears in four different experiments. This research will provide some guidance for management in all kinds of organizations, they should strive to make their workplaces emotionally healthy for their workforce.”

There is no doubt about it, caring for employee health and wellbeing makes good business sense.