The missing link of employee health and productivity
Engagement 4 minute read

The missing link of employee health and productivity

Julie Bevacqua | September 17, 2019

Employee health and productivity are intertwined; one cannot exist without the other. That’s why it’s crucial to invest in employee wellness initiatives to create a happier and healthier workplace.

The workplace continues to evolve, and with it, the health and wellbeing priorities of employee health and productivity.

Millennials now comprise the workforce majority and report the most workplace stress. Baby Boomers and Generation X are dealing with complications of chronic disease in their own lives, and as caregivers for their aging parents. Mental health issues plague all demographics as people attempt to cope with workplace and family stress. And the rigid model of the “9-to-5 employee” is fading into obscurity as the gig economy heats up, isolating employees from their colleagues in satellite and remote offices. 

Amidst these shifts, Canadian companies looking for a leg up on the competition are recognizing the link between employee health and productivity.

In the face of increasing global competition, rising healthcare costs, and shrinking profit margins, forward-thinking organizations are turning to health and wellness programs to boost employee wellbeing and to ultimately improve business performance in the process. In fact, 77% of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers have a structured wellness program in place, according to a report by the Medisys Health Group. 

Ask yourself: are you hindering productivity by not contributing to employee wellbeing?

Unhealthy employees are a financial drain on a company. When employee health is compromised, productivity is negatively impacted by a combination of absenteeism, presenteeism, and employee churn. 

Mental health has a serious impact on productivity. The Canadian Mental Health Association estimates mental health issues cost the economy $50 billion every year—with more than 500,000 Canadians off work every week due to mental stress or illness. That is a staggering statistic. In addition to depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, financial stress, sleep deprivation, and the strain of caring for ailing parents further contribute to lost productivity. 

Similarly, when employees suffer from chronic disease, the cost to employers is represented in lost productivity and opportunities in terms of:

  • increased employee absenteeism;
  • increased disability;
  • increased accidents;
  • reduced workplace effectiveness; and
  • negative impacts on work quality or customer service.

There is good news: you can contribute to a healthier workplace by investing in employee wellness programs. 

Happy employees are productive employees. By offering employees workplace wellness programs that support their wellbeing and foster community and connection in the workplace, job satisfaction improves, engagement increases, attrition declines, and performance climbs.

Of note, a 2017 study found participation in an employee health and wellness program increased employee productivity between 5% (equivalent to a day’s worth of work a month) and 11%. CEO Magazine interviewed the study authors: 

“Our research suggests that corporate wellness plans can boost employee satisfaction by offering a tangible benefit that empowers them to take care of their health in a way that’s integrated into their busy lives. The result is healthier and happier employees who are not only less expensive and less absent, but also more productive.”

-- Timothy Gubler, Assistant Professor of Management, School of Business, University of California, Riverside (UCR) 

With the link between employee health and productivity becoming more widely-recognized, health and wellness has moved from the realm of corporate responsibility into a critical business performance strategy.

What is your organization doing to improve the wellbeing of your workforce? Don’t get left behind in this competitive marketplace: strengthen your company’s productivity and performance by focusing on the health of your people. 

For more information about how to boost the productivity of your workforce, I’d like to draw your attention to the latest ebook in our Health & Wellness in the Workplace series: “Driving Productivity & Engagement Through Workplace Wellness”.

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