Implementing a wellbeing program is good business because of its positive impact to the corporate bottom line. It is a win-win for both the company and its employees. Employers who actively support and promote employee wellbeing see improvements in workforce engagement (the commitment and energy brought to the workplace), productivity, and retention. Simultaneously, employees who participate in the wellbeing program feel valued and improve their mental and physical wellness. There is a real need to improve employee mental and physical health. A 2016 survey by the American Bar Association found that attorneys are under profound health stress. Up to 36 percent of the 13,000 practicing lawyers surveyed were classified as active problem drinkers. Between 19 and 28 percent were struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression. The surveyed attorneys were not happy and may have been depressed, burned out, struggling with substance abuse, and other physical health issues, such as strokes or heart attacks. These mental and physical health issues are not limited to attorneys. Business people also have similar mental and physical challenges. Mental health problems affect many employees — a fact that is usually overlooked because these disorders tend to be hidden at work. Researchers analyzing results from the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey, a nationally representative study of Americans ages 15 to 54, reported that 18% of those who were employed said they experienced symptoms of a mental health disorder in the previous month. Accordingly, it is important and necessary to improve employee mental and physical wellness.
In addition, there is a direct connection between employee physical and mental health and their engagement, productivity, and retention.  Engaged employees are often described as involved, committed, and enthusiastic. In contrast, disengaged employees are usually mentally “checked-out”, unmotivated and just “going through the motions.” Engaged employees are more productive, content, and loyal to the organization.
A wellbeing program should be holistic and reach 6 dimensions of wellbeing. The dimensions of wellbeing include:
- Occupational: Satisfaction, Growth, Financial
- Emotional: Manage Emotions and Protect Mental Health
- Physical: Healthy Lifestyle, Help-Seeking When Needed
- Intellectual: Learn, Pursue Challenge, Keep Developing
- Spiritual: Meaning and Purpose
- Social: Connection, Belonging, Contributing
A holistic wellbeing program improves productivity because participants’ physical, social, and emotional needs are met. In contrast, productivity decreases when individuals’ wellbeing is disregarded or unnoticed. Poor employee productivity occurs when an employee is physically on the job, but because of illness or other medical conditions, is not fully functioning, engaged, or focused. This type of poor productivity is called presenteeism and can cut individual productivity by one-third or more. Research shows that a main cause of presenteeism is poor health. This group of employees chooses lifestyles that cause decreased productive work time. Therefore, it is a good business decision to implement a wellbeing program for both the health and welfare of your employees and the company.
1. A Wellbeing Program Improves Productivity by Increasing Employee Happiness and Satisfaction.
Employees participating in a wellbeing program experience increased happiness and satisfaction, which is correlated with improved productivity. There are numerous studies that show that happier employees are more productive in the workplace,such as a2008 Gallup poll in the US that found that retailers with happy employees generated an extra $21 per square foot than average, which produced up to an extra $32 million profit for a chain. Similarly, in Harvard Psychologist Daniel Goleman’s book Primal Leadership, one study shows that for every 2% increase in how happy employees were, revenue grew by 1%. In order to have a robust business, corporate employers should make employees’ happiness a priority and enjoy a corresponding increase in productivity.
Employees feel happy in the workplace when they feel that they matter and that their work has an impact upon their advancement, as well as, the organization. By implementing a wellbeing program, employers are increasing their employees’ happiness because it makes them feel that they are valued by supporting their physical and mental health. For example, when employers offer healthy and stress-reducing activities, such as walking, yoga, or meditation, the employees feel happier because the employer took action to help manage their stress. Also, happiness increases when employees are participating in a wellbeing program because they develop and experience a deeper social connection with their work team and other corporate members.
As discussed above, happy employees are good for business by increasing productivity. Therefore, corporations should make business decisions that increase their employees’ happiness, which will increase productivity.
2. A Wellbeing Program Improves Productivity from the Benefits of Physical Activity.
A wellbeing program improves productivity because part of the program involves physical movement, such as walking, stretching, yoga, stair climbing, or another exercise activity. The activity does not have to be at a high intensity. While it is accepted that physical activity can lower blood pressure and help with weight loss, studies show that our cognitive abilities improve when we integrate some form regular activity in our lives. The cognitive benefits include the following:
- Improved concentration
- Sharper memory
- Faster learning
- Prolonged mental stamina
- Enhanced creativity
- Lower stress
After participating in a physical activity, you and your employees will feel more energized and may have a new creative thought or solution to a matter on which you are working. The physical activity can free your mind, which gives your subconscious the freedom to generate new creative ideas. Importantly, productivity improves because brain function is increased from physical activity, such as taking a walking break.
3. A Wellbeing Program Increases Employee Satisfaction, Happiness, and Retention.
A wellbeing program helps employees feel valuedand that their health and welfare is important, and a priority to their employer. A wellbeing program causes employee loyalty and commitment, and results in greater retention. The wellbeing program is a powerful tool that can keep top talent at you company. For example, Forty-five percent of Americans working at small to medium-sized companies say that they would stay at their jobs longer because of employer-sponsored wellness programs. As additional evidence, the Limeade Institute recently explored the connection between turnover rates and wellbeing participation. The Institute found that turnover rates were four times higher among employees who were not registered for a well-being program compared to registered employees. Therefore, employee participation in a wellbeing program increases employees’ happiness, satisfaction, and retention.
A corporate wellbeing program is good and sound business. The program improves the health and welfare of its employees, which results in improved productivity in the workplace. It also results in greater employee loyalty and retention. As a consequence of increased productivity and greater retention, corporate revenue increases. It is simply good business for companies to care for their employees and implement a wellbeing program.
- Smokers were 28% more likely to have high presenteeism than non-smokers. Employees with an unhealthy diet were 66% more likely to have high presenteeism than those who regularly ate whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Employees who didn’t exercise very much were 50% more likely to have high presenteeism than employees who were regular exercisers. https://www.wellsteps.com/blog/2018/07/04/reasons-to-have-a-wellness-program-benefits-of-wellness/
- http://fortune.com/2015/10/29/happy-productivity-work/; http://www.smf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Social-Market-Foundation-Publication-Briefing-CAGE-4-Are-happy-workers-more-productive-281015.pdf
- Exercise boosts brain function. https://www.business.com/articles/working-out-your-way-to-intense-productivity/
- Researchers at Stanford University found that there was a direct correlation between walking and creativity.https://news.stanford.edu/2014/04/24/walking-vs-sitting-042414/