How Does Employee Wellness Affect Productivity?

Employee Productivity and Employee Wellness

How Does Employee Wellness Affect Productivity?

Guest Post by Shortlister

For many employees, the constant changes at work – demand for new skills, new working models, and evolving technology – are significant causes of chronic stress. While some employees adapt to change well and thrive, for many striking a healthy work-life balance may only seem like a myth.

Employers must pay close attention to employee wellness, as poor health wreaks havoc on workplace culture and productivity, subsequently impacting the organization’s financial well-being.

What is Employee Wellbeing? Why Does it Matter in the Workplace?  

Employee wellbeing is more than just reducing illnesses among employees. Instead, it is about optimizing all the dimensions of employee wellness, your workforce’s mental, physical, financial, and social health. Comprehensive employee wellness programs aim to address the biggest threats to workplace health, such as stress, anxiety, and obesity.

Although many employers offer health and medical benefits, only a few promote holistic and personalized wellness. A common assumption is that these employee wellness programs are too expensive, difficult to implement, or bring no value to an organization. However, many employers fail to realize the far-reaching benefits of wellness in the workplace and the strong correlation between well-being and productivity. 

According to one survey, employers listed the following as the top positive outcomes of wellness initiatives: 

  • Boosted employees’ productivity and performance 
  • Improved employee health 
  • Reduced healthcare costs 

The corporate wellness industry is now valued at $52 billion and is expected to grow even more. Today, the definition of wellness expands beyond employees’ physical health and safety. Companies now offer innovative fitness trackers, apps, and programs for financial wellness, cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, sleep, nutrition consultations, and stress management to support employees holistically.

Well-being is crucial for employee fulfillment and satisfaction, but it is also imperative for business results. When employees are more content and thriving, they are more engaged and productive in their work.

The Link between Employee Productivity and Workplace Wellness 

Workplace wellbeing has been on the radar of many businesses for a good time now, for a good reason. Forward-thinking businesses are embracing employee wellness as an integral and responsible corporate strategy. It also offers a competitive and strategic advantage to boost employee engagement and performance.

When companies fail to proactively manage and empower their workplace wellbeing, they throw away the opportunity to create many positive effects.

Studies show that boosted employee wellness leads to direct benefits to the organization. 

1. Reduced absenteeism and healthcare costs 

According to the World Health Organization, the global stress epidemic costs businesses at least $1 trillion annually in lost productivity in measurable areas, such as absenteeism and creativity and innovation. Moreover, workers who experience burnout are 63% more likely to take a sick day, leading to high absenteeism rates and lost productivity. 

Companies now realize that preventing these issues has proven cost-effective with a great ROI. In fact, for every dollar invested in treating common mental health disorders, there is a return of $4 in improved productivity and health.   

2. Higher productivity 

One study found that employees with low wellness only produce 64% of possible work output, while workers with top well-being produce 83%. The study shows a whopping 20% difference in individual productivity depending on the wellness of workers. Also, team productivity increases from 61% to 81% as team wellness goes from poor to excellent. 

3. Reduced presentism & increased engagement 

Poor employee productivity is defined as being physically at work but not working. This type of disengagement is called presenteeism. One estimate states that the cost of presenteeism due to poor health is at least 2 to 3 times bigger than direct health care expenses. 

Unhealthy individual lifestyle choices may lead to substantially higher lost productivity at work. For example, employees who smoke are 28% more likely to have high presenteeism than non-smoker employees. Additionally, employees with poor and unhealthy diets were 66% more likely to have high presenteeism levels.

Other health risks like excess body weight, high cholesterol, chronic diseases, and chronic depression dramatically increased presenteeism rates. Employee wellness programs can help in dealing these issues to improve workforce health and productivity at work. 

4. Improved recruitment and retention  

Wellness is about creating a culture and working environment that directly impacts and supports employees. This fosters a positive relationship between the employer and its employees. As a result, employers that stand out as caring will always be able to attract and retain talent. 

In fact, 78% of employers stated that the top reason they offer wellness programs is to increase recruitment, retention, and productivity. As the war for talent intensifies, offering a competitive benefits package will be pivotal in talent acquisition. Well-being can give companies a competitive edge in their attraction messaging and retention of employees. 

5. Better employer brand  

In 2016 Millennials became the largest generation in the workforce, and by 2025 they will make up 75% of the global workforce. Employee wellness benefits are especially important to younger workers. One statistic shows that Millennials spend twice as much on “self-care” as Baby Boomers do.

Millennials demand better working conditions, flexibility, and better work-life balance. In addition, when Millennials work for companies that align with their own internal values, they are more productive and engaged.

The Bottom Line 

As employees are the most valuable asset of an organization, employers must protect their health and wellbeing when faced with increasingly challenging and stressful work conditions. Higher levels of employee wellbeing correlate with higher productivity and happiness among employees. Empowering holistic wellbeing through well-designed employee wellness programs can make significant gains for your organization, its efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

Written by Ivana Radevska, Shortlister

Ivana Radevska is an HR and benefits content expert at Shortlister. She speaks three languages and enjoys writing guides for HR professionals.