Workplace wellness has become a key offering that talent looks for when scoping out new opportunities. Supporting good physical health in the workplace is just as important for employers as the employees, as maintaining a team's workplace wellness can improve the company’s bottom line.
Why Does Employee Physical Health Matter for Workplace Health and Safety?
A business is like a machine. It is only profitable when each component, even the smallest cog, works efficiently. If a part of the machine fails, you can see production stop, unable to produce results.
Health and wellness initiatives within companies provide vital health checks for employees that otherwise can easily be overlooked. Testing cholesterol levels, blood pressure and prediabetes can easily be disregarded when employees need to take time off work, especially if they believe they do not have symptoms. However, by implementing in-house checks, employers are ensuring their staff stay healthy and implement further plans to improve productivity and that workplace health and safety are supported through preventative care.
The implications of poor physical health for workplace wellness.
Poor physical health has a sizeable effect on a broad group of individuals associated with the sick person. Not only can it impact the person in question physically and financially, but it also impacts their family, co-workers, employers, and the economy.
The cost of increased absenteeism and decreased productivity in the workplace.
When an individual is physically sick, they spend less time at work, and their productivity at work can be impacted negatively when they are there, and they rely on their team to take on their workload.
In 2020 New Zealand lost 7.3 million working days due to absence. Although the effects of COVID had a significant impact, the figure was lower than two years prior, from 7.4 million in 2018.
The direct cost of absenteeism on the economy was $1.85 million. Individual prices per employee range between $600-$1000. However, it is a larger business with 100+ employees that see a substantial cost occur. In 2020, the price per business was over $550,000 – a substantial figure to digest and one that can shift your bottom line.
Increased risk to workplace health and safety.
Poor physical health and its impact on workplace health and safety vary between industries. For example, agriculture, construction and forestry rely on good physical health to maintain strength, stamina and good judgement. When these attributes are compromised by poor physical health, there is a higher risk of accidents and injury. The results can be devastating; one truck driver falling asleep at the wheel or suffering a cardiac arrest could cause multiple fatalities.
Physical health impacts mental health in the workplace.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, nearly one in three people with a long-term physical health condition also can suffer from poor mental health, most often depression or anxiety. Poor physical health of an employee can take a massive toll on their mental wellbeing. The frustrations and life changes can compromise their happiness and fulfilment, as they are forced to make changes to their routine. Without recognition of this change and additional support from an employer, an employee’s mental health in the workplace could also suffer.
The effects of both the change and how an organisation handles them can affect a broader network around this individual and exacerbates the impact on your organisation. It is recommended to identify where assistance could be needed early on and to provide a solution to ensure the individual feels comfortable, supported and listened to.
The social impact of poor physical workplace wellness
A well-designed workplace balances people skills and hours to ensure optimal productivity output and meeting deadlines. If you have members of a team who may not be looking after their health, they are more likely to be absent or the results of their work can suffer.However, it is not just productivity that sickness inhibits; the social aspect of the team is hindered. Resentment of increased workload or negativity towards the person or how the organisation approaches the situation can cause disruptions to the overall team’s output if not dealt with correctly. Workplace wellness should be supported both on an individual and an organisational level.
In other words, if a business does not recognise the benefits of supporting and maintaining their employees' wellness physically and emotionally, they may visibly see the impact of that choice on the bottom line through staff turnover, absenteeism and loss of productivity.
The financial benefits of investing in workplace wellness.
According to the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention, worksite physical activity can improve employee health and save money. It can improve morale, lower costs and boost productivity.
There is a strong correlation between employees’ state needs within their working life and the underlying drivers of their productivity at work.1 Within the ‘Great Resignation’ movement, employees are more empowered now and selective of what company to work for than ever before.
Workplace wellness initiatives and employee resources designed to improve employees’ health are good incentives to attract talent and retain the staff you have. As employers, it can enhance a company’s culture and workplace productivity, improving the company's bottom lines.
What Are the Benefits of Good Physical Health to a Business?
Healthy employees are productive employees.
- Lower absenteeism
- Work at full capacity
- More motivation
- Higher morale
Healthy employees make better teams.
- More teamwork
- More trust
- More enthusiasm
How Can Employers Help Improve Physical Health and Workplace Wellness?
Start the employee wellness conversation.
By promoting good health among employees, you can help prevent illness. Raising awareness of what the company believes a valued employee should care about helps them identify if they could be at risk. By starting a conversation with your employees about how you value their input and that the business cares about their health is a positive move.
Promoting good health and educating employees to make them more aware of their bodies and minds. By starting the conversation you may find individuals who are waiting for a little push to address issues that may cause harmful health issues down the line. By bringing awareness and opening up personalised resources for them, in the long run, they are more likely to know more about what impacts their own health and where they need to be careful in the future.
Measure your organisation’s wellbeing.
You can’t manage something, if you don’t measure it first! Find out what the biggest risks/challenges are for your workforce before making significant changes to your workplace wellness program. Each industry and organisation faces different challenges and have different health and wellness risks. Health checks that offer reporting, and health and wellness surveys and apps are a great way to check your organisation’s health and wellness risks before embarking on investing into what will help your employee’s lead their healthiest lives first.
Enable regular exercise.
Healthy employees are less likely to suffer fatigue, stress, and physical and mental burnout. Helping your team develop positive habits like regular exercise also improves cardiovascular health and your immune system, which is especially important today. It strengthens your bones and joints and increases energy levels. Overall, it creates a healthier state of mind.
Workplace wellbeing initiatives like running clubs at lunch, gym membership or yoga sessions before work will provide additional social benefits. Your team will support each other to go more and feel included in the wider community.
Encourage physical health checks.
A constructive way employers can counteract health issues occurring in their employees is by providing physical health checks. Workplace wellness initiatives like flu shots and physical health checks provide health resources to employees that they would not necessarily do themselves due to cost or time.
Blood pressure and cholesterol screening can identify a higher risk of heart disease. Both are conditions that can be treated with medications and lifestyle changes to lower heart disease risk. When these problems are addressed early, as a preventive measure, it reduces the risk of future heart health issues that could cause extended illness or possibly kill them.
Promote good nutrition habits.
The value of good nutrition cannot be underestimated. Healthy and nutritious foods help maintain your employees' energy and concentration levels. Team fruit baskets or removing vending machines full of junk food and energy drinks inhibit the easy access to poor nutritional choices.
Implement a workplace wellness program.
Healthy and engaged employees are key to the success of any business. Implementing an employee health and well-being program for your workforce encourages employees to live healthy, balanced lives and is good for your business.
By choosing a health and wellness program like KYND Wellness, designed by clinical professionals, companies can rest assured they are providing support based on sound medical advice.
Measure the ROI of your initiatives
Use a tool like the KYND Dashboard, which allows you to measure your organisations’ health and wellness, and also measure the changes in your organisation’s data as you implement new programs. This will allow you to measure your investments and see if they are really moving the needle in the direction you want.
Choose KYND Wellness and get a personalised employee wellness plan.
By choosing KYND Wellness to support your company, you have a medically supported educational service, one on one health consultations for your team, valuable data on how your organisation is performing, and clinical advice and recommendations on where improvements can be made.
Contact us for further information on how we can help you empower your employees' health and wellness.
1 McKinsey | COVID 19 & the employee experience