Companies cost more than one month a year in productivity through poor employee health


The effects of both absenteeism and presenteeism are being felt in UK businesses, as they lose on average 23.5 days of productive time per employee each year due to sickness absence and under-performance through ill health.

Research from Britain’s Healthiest Company, alongside VitalityHealth, Mercer, the University of Cambridge and RAND Europe, found that this is the equivalent of £57 billion a year in lost productivity.

The survey showed that 36% of UK workers suffer from a chronic condition, such as heart disease or diabetes, often due to their lifestyle choices.

While nearly two a third have three or more health risk factors (whereby people are outside the ‘healthy’ range for a lifestyle or clinical health factor), the results of the study showed that 60% of those people believe that they are in good health – reducing the likelihood that they will change their lifestyle or behaviour.

However, as companies start to introduce more workplace wellness programmes, the costs to productivity through absenteeism and presenteeism are decreasing – the 25% of companies with the largest health promotion budgets saw a 16% year-on-year reduction in productivity loss.

Shaun Subel, director at VitalityHealth, said: “The findings of the Britain’s Healthiest Company research should serve as a wake-up call for UK firms to do more to improve the health and wellbeing of their staff. The data shows that organisations with an authentic and positive culture of wellness see increased productivity from their employees.”

“Employers have a unique role to play in influencing employee behaviours around health and wellbeing”, added Chris Bailey, partner at Mercer. “By creating an environment of making the right health-based decisions and supporting sustained lifestyle changes, employers can reduce their lost productivity and help create a virtuous circle of healthy, engaged, productive employees.”

Carl Chapman, head of workplace health at Barnett Waddingham, has been blogging for Reward about wellbeing. Read his blog HERE, and watch an interview with him HERE.