Improving staff health is not only beneficial to business performance, but more importantly employee morale, motivation and engagement. Here are five common myths about improving staff health through health wellbeing programmes and the real truth behind them.
Many staff still feel the pressures of the recent recession, in particular doing more work for the same amount of pay due to redundancies and members of staff who weren’t replaced when they left.
This pressure can lead to employee burnout and increased levels of stress which can manifest in more serious illnesses such as diabetes, peptic ulcers and heart disease. There is also a mental health issue associated with increased stress levels; this may mean employees not performing to the best of their ability or suffering from depression.
So why aren’t employers paying attention to the health of their staff and helping them improve it? I look into five common myths about improving staff health through wellbeing programmes:
Myth: Staff health programmes are not important and shouldn’t be a priority in the current economic climate
Truth: Due the uncertainty over the Brexit vote it is now even more important that organisations make smart decisions and invest wisely in their employees, including investing in staff health programmes. Investing in your employees’ health demonstrates that you care about the wellbeing of your employees and will help you improve staff retention and employee engagement, as well as lower staff absence.
Myth: Improving staff health is costly
Truth: The median absence cost is £554 per employee, per year and it is considerably higher in the public sector, according to the CIPD’s 2015 Annual Absence Management Survey. And with the cost of replacing an employee who has resigned due to sickness or ill health being around one and a half times their annual salary, not improving staff health can be even more costly. Employee wellbeing programmes don’t have to be costly and can help you reduce costs in other areas.
Myth: Employers are not responsible for the health of their staff
Truth: Employees who suffer from ill health can have a significant negative impact on the workplace. Productivity falls and colleagues who are trying to cover their own roles as well as their absent co-worker’s work are more susceptible to stress and burnout. Long-term sickness can also negatively affect employee morale. That’s why it makes good business to invest in staff heath.
Myth: Health and wellbeing programmes don’t produce lasting changes in people’s behaviour
Truth: Like all employee benefits launching a programme with a fanfare and then not following up will result in falling participation rates. Even just small changes in employees’ behaviour can be extremely positive, such as eating more fruit or being more active, but employers need to keep promoting their employee wellbeing programme in order to engage employees and produce lasting changes in people’s behaviour.
Myth: Their staff won’t value it
Truth: Perhaps this is the most damaging myth. There is a lot of research and articles that write about how employees really do value health and wellbeing programmes and how the best employee benefits programmes include health and wellbeing benefits as part of their mix. A study from Metlife found that nearly two-thirds (61%) of employees who were “very satisfied” working for their employer said they were so because of their company’s health benefits.
Many organisations feel that health and wellbeing programmes are just a nice to have, and then only if there are sufficient funds to resource them. But improving staff health is not only beneficial to business performance, but more importantly employee morale, motivation and engagement.
Research in Australia indicates the return on investment is around $5 for every $1 invested. It’s time for employers to wake up and smell the coffee, and ditch the junk food in the vending machines, to help employees achieve a healthy balanced lifestyle. By doing so organisations, employees and customers will benefit – it’s a win-win for everyone!