Most companies are aware of the links between workplace health and productivity. The logic is clear: if employees are healthy, they will take fewer days off sick, and will work more effectively the rest of the time. This is not to mention the boost in job satisfaction when they feel their employer cares about their well-being.
Unfortunately, employers in the UK may struggle to get wellness initiatives off the ground. As Shaun Subel, strategy director at VitalityHealth explains, they can face a number of challenges in building a business case.
“First, the existence of the NHS reduces the employer’s duty of care with regard to its employees’ long-term health,” he says. “Second, UK employees have the highest turnover rates in Europe, meaning programmes with only long-term benefits can struggle to find strategic relevance. Third, there is no specific guidance around measuring workplace wellness.”
The upshot is that many UK companies fail to invest in staff health and well-being, with a knock-on effect on economic performance. It is estimated that health-related lost productivity (including absenteeism and underperformance) costs the UK economy a staggering £73bn a year. This equates to more than a month of productive time per person.
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