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Building the business case for wellbeing

4th April, 2019

Renée Clarke




Workplace health and wellbeing should be a key driver for good business, yet only 26% of organisations have a workplace health strategy in place and of those, 94% don’t actually use it.  

Building a holistic and sustainable workplace health strategy that links to your overall business objectives is key to developing a strong, results driven programme.

In a recent survey 72.8% of businesses state that pressurised work is the biggest organisational threat and 59% state that mental health is a key driver for workplace health. Yet so many organisations are still offering ad hoc training, hoping this will solve all their workplace health problems.

Often the biggest fear to developing a workplace health strategy is securing senior management buy in and supporting funds. Whilst it does take time and effort to build the business case for wellbeing it certainly shouldn’t be feared.  

If your health and wellbeing strategy is linked to the health needs of your workforce and aligned to your overall business objectives, a healthy return on investment (ROI) should be easily demonstrable.


So why invest in wellbeing?

Good wellbeing positively affects individuals, organisations and society.  

Individuals become more focused, less anxious, physically healthier and out perform their unhealthy colleagues by 17%; organisations see improved sickness absence, improved performance (25.1 additional days of productivity for healthy employees) and improved retention. Furthermore, society gains by reduced poor health costs (poor mental health currently costs the UK economy £105 billion per year, the same as it costs to run the whole NHS).


Building the business case for wellbeing

A recent report highlighted that whilst 67.6% of boards supported their company wellbeing agenda, only 7% drove it forward!

The most successful programmes both in terms of employee engagement and ROI are those that have a senior manager driving the programme forward. What this demonstrates is workplace health and wellbeing is not just about funding, it’s about culture and working environment.  

Without the right working environment any programme, no matter how much time and effort are invested, is likely to fail.  

Your wellbeing programme should be aligned to the business vision and goals and be built on measurable metrics. Understanding the current costs of poor health goes over and above just standard sickness absence figures.

You need to delve deeper and have a clear understanding of where you are now with regards to health, where you want to be and most importantly what impact this will have on the business.  

Below is a quick check list to get you thinking about the stats you have available to you:

Demographics: Age, gender, family status, distance from home to office. What difference could flexible working make to the workforce? Could age/gender specific programmes improve the wellbeing and performance of your workforce?

Sickness: Number of incidents, length, reasons, when is it taken (during holidays), which departments/reasons? What are the patterns? Are there any preventative measures you could put in place such as management training or additional support?

Staff Turnover: What percentage of staff are leaving? Why are staff leaving? How much does it cost to replace a person? What can you do improve staff turnover? Is it the working environment/leaderships team or something different?

Productivity: How do you measure against the UK average? What measures can you take to improve performance? Do you know how you compare to your competitors?

Accidents: How many accidents are reported? Why do they happen? Where do they happen? What measures could be taken to stop them happening again? How much do accidents at work cost your organisation?

Current Programmes: EAP/Health Care/Medical Insurance – What is the take up? What are the reasons for using the service? How could this data help you provide a targeted programme?

Current Paper Surveys: What are the current staff satisfaction levels, engagement levels and state of employee health and wellbeing? Are the stats recorded? What impact would improved engagement levels have on your organisation?

Current physical health checks:  What are the health issues with the workforce? Are staff overweight/underweight, do they have high cholesterol, high glucose, height fat %, smoking, stress levels. Have you held in house health checks or paper surveys? What data do you have? What could you do to address key areas?

Gathering all this information may seem like an arduous task but it will allow you to calculate the true costs of poor health on your organisation.  

By taking a proactive approach and understanding your workforce needs, pre-empting what health issues may occur and putting proactive measures in place, you will build a strong and resilient workforce.

To conclude, organisations who have a workplace health strategy in place and invest between £25 and £50 per employee see a much higher ROI than those with no strategy investing between just £1 and £25.  

Poor health costs organisations around £500 per employee per year so can you afford not to invest in your number one asset?

In the next issue we will look at how to implement a wellbeing strategy that yields results.


Renée Clarke

Renée Clarke Msc has worked in the health and wellbeing sector for 11 years and is passionate about the benefits workplace health and wellbeing have on performance and retention. Renée’s expert knowledge has led her to deliver to some of the UKs largest public and private organisations. Her ability to translate the complexity of workplace health into an easily understandable subject gives her an edge in the industry. Renée has recently written an online course for SME’s who want to implement a workplace health and wellbeing strategy on a limited budget http://www.workwellhub.com

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