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Evidence shows a health and wellbeing scheme makes good business sense

For a lot of young, but growing businesses, a health and wellbeing plan for employees might be viewed as something that’s nice to have in an ideal world, but an expense that cannot be spared in reality.
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Many business owners would offer a health and wellbeing scheme in an ideal world, but deem it too expensive. In reality, the right schemes could save you money.

For a lot of young, but growing businesses, a health and wellbeing plan for employees might be viewed as something that’s nice to have in an ideal world, but an expense that cannot be spared in reality.

Certainly, a business working on a shoestring budget can be forgiven for thinking this way – after all, you’re running a business, and profit comes first.

When employees are off sick, it’s disruptive – productivity drops, and you lose money. Long-term sickness can be a particular problem as paying for cover and sick pay can be damaging when money is tight.

However, ERS Research & Consultancy compiled an economic evidence report for health at work programmes, and it concluded that caring for your employees can be beneficial to your bottom line after all.

The report found that sickness absence costs UK businesses around £29bn every year, with the average worker taking 6.6 days off per year. In addition, it was estimated that the average London business of 250 employees loses around £250,000 a year due to ill health.

Could a health and wellbeing scheme have saved money in the long-term?

Reduced sickness absence

A review of UK employer wellbeing schemes found that reduced sickness absence was evident in 82 per cent of the programmes. This means that staff spent more time at work, were more productive overall as a result, and the businesses were saved the cost of recruiting temp cover.

Reduced turnover

The same case studies also reported reduced turnover of 33 per cent. Keeping your employees happy and healthy incentivises them to stay – once again saving you the cost and disruption of recruiting and training up new staff. In fact, the businesses reported an average 25 per cent increase in employee satisfaction.

According to a survey of more than 500 SME decision makers by AXA PPP healthcare*, 17.6 per cent of businesses claimed it cost between £10k-25k to replace an employee, and 11.4 per cent claimed it cost between £25k-50k. It’s not to be taken lightly, these costs are substantial and not always expected or planned for.

Brand image

Paying attention to your staff’s health and wellbeing can help nurture a reputation for being a good employer, which is good for your brand image and reputation. It also means when you next look to recruit, you are a more attractive prospect.

“The healthcare agenda for business has shifted significantly over the last 20 years. Nowadays there’s an expectation that employers will offer a remuneration package that provides for employees’ health and wellbeing needs,” said Mike Davis, head of SME Business at AXA PPP healthcare.

“For attracting and retaining the right people, this can be key – especially in light of the current UK employment environment where some businesses are struggling to get suitable candidates to take on vacant posts. Of course, not only do health and wellbeing benefits enable an employer to stand out from the crowd where, for many, competition for talent is fierce but they also play a critical role in building and maintaining a high performing workforce.”

It all comes down to balance

As with all things, there is a balance to find between ignoring your employee’s health and wellbeing and breaking the bank putting the most comprehensive schemes in place.

Some health initiatives might be beyond your budget, but there are some things that can be implemented cost-effectively. For example, encouraging employees to walk or cycle to work, providing fresh fruit in the office or having pamphlets on various health issues available in the break room. Business healthcare cover could also cost less than you might think, with the ability to tailor it to suit the needs of your business and budget.

You can have events that tie in with national awareness campaigns, or you can have a more holistic approach to a health and wellbeing scheme that ties in to everyday working practices.

There’s no one right way to look after your employee’s health and wellbeing, but it certainly can be good for your staff – and ultimately, good for business.

“Employers should adopt strategies that focus both on preventive and reactive approaches to health and wellbeing, as well as considering the physical and psychological concerns that affect their workforce. It is also important to ensure that benefits that are provided are both appealing and accessible to all employees – wherever and whenever they work,” said Davis.

For more information to help support the health and wellbeing of your employees please click here. Advertisement

*Online survey of 507 SME senior decision makers (Chief Executives, Managing Directors and Senior Managers) in September 2016 by market research agency Atomik on behalf of AXA PPP healthcare.

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About Author

Letitia Booty

Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Real Business. She has a BA in english literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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