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Unhealthy employees are bad for business

British employers are losing more than one month a year in lost productivity

20 June 2017
Kimberley Dondo

Research from Britain’s Healthiest Workplace (BHW) has found that UK employers are losing 27.5 days of productive work per employee each year as a result of ill health. When this is translated into a monetary value, employee absence and presenteeism costs the UK economy £73 billion a year.

The research measured health in terms of exposure to risk factors that occur due to a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet or any medical issues such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, and found that 68% of respondents had a least two of these risk factors and a third were suffering from three or more risk factors.

Worryingly, 63% of those who had three or more health risk factors believed they were in good or very good health which the study indicates means they won’t change their behaviour.

Shaun Subel, strategy director at VitalityHealth, commented: “The findings of Britain’s Healthiest Workplace not only demonstrate the scale of the UK’s productivity challenge, but point to an exciting alternative in the ways employers can manage this problem. Traditionally, we have seen that employers looking to boost the productivity of their business often focus on measures such as the automation of human tasks or process re-engineering to pursue efficiencies.”

Subel continues “While these measures are important they have definite trade-offs in terms of cost, sustainability, and potentially being perceived negatively by employees. Health and wellbeing, on the other hand, is an area where this trade-off does not exist – while wellbeing interventions can be of relatively low cost compared to the alternatives, they deliver tangible improvements in employee engagement and productivity, and are typically viewed positively by employees. Together, these ultimately lead to improvements in a business’s bottom line.”

A further key risk impacting on the health of today’s employees is poor financial wellbeing, with more than two thirds of employees who are struggling financially reporting that they have poor mental health, struggle to sleep and cannot focus at work.

Added to this, record numbers of employees are now working well into their old age due to a lack of adequate savings.

Jonathan Watts-Lay, director, WEALTH at work, comments: “Financial concerns can have a massive impact on an employee’s health. In our latest research with Reward, 66% of employers said that financial wellbeing worries had led to increased levels of stress amongst employees, and 33% believed that it had led to employee absenteeism due to sickness.

There is a commercial cost to people having financial worries, or being unable to retire due to lack of savings, which is why looking out for your employees financial wellbeing is also in your best interest.  A relevant and well communicated financial wellbeing strategy can deliver on this and is mutually beneficial to both employers and employees.”

Reward and WEALTH at work are blogging about financial education, savings and retirement options. FOLLOW THE SERIES HERE


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