6 Reasons To Make Employee Health A Priority

Published on:
by Eric Burdon
Image of 2 men 2 women at work discussing employee wellbeing
Image by rawpixel.com on Freepik

As more businesses look for productive ways to contribute to ESG, they may realise how difficult it can be to adopt those values. In terms of environment, it can be putting together a recycling bin for electronics, paper, and plastic, or reducing your carbon footprint. But in the case of social initiatives, it can be trickier.

At its core, the social process of ESG for businesses is employee empowerment, and there are several ways to empower employees. The simplest and most universal aspect that employers and business owners should focus on is the improvement of employee health. A recent study found the annual cost of workplace illnesses, in the US alone, totalled $575 billion, with a lot of that easily preventable with a robust health programme.

More Than Just Cost Reduction

Certainly, if organisations encourage a positive focus on aspects of mental health, illness, or simply overall good health, there will be a commensurate cost reduction as employees improve efficiency. Healthy behaviours will ultimately save money, through less absenteeism and more productivity. While this is a 'bottom-line' way to identify success, beyond that here are other examples of how to determine 'value' and progress, and why it’s worth investing in your employee's mental health and overall well-being.

Increased Trust

Investing in someone else creates a sense of care from the other person. To bridge the gap between employee and employer, something as simple as this can build up an incredible amount of trust. But this act creates a ripple effect.

If employees know they are cared for and appreciated, they are more likely to follow the company’s mission and improve their productivity. This will also affect how satisfied they are with their job.

Saved Time

You’ll begin to notice other productivity perks when you focus on having a robust wellness programme. To start, if employees have existing medical conditions and require prescriptions, they may no longer have to leave the office early or take more time off work to pick up prescriptions. Having an online general practitioner (GP) service in place removes that need.

That same service can also provide excellent online counselling, which saves an incredible amount of workplace time and energy. No longer do employees have to navigate the mess of finding a therapist on their own.

Featured Article: 5 Tech Companies That Support Employee Well-Being Fantastically

More Interaction Between Employees

Even though a company has multiple departments that are broken into sections, each one is collectively working towards the same goal. As such, there is no one group that’s more important than the rest. This barrier can be difficult to overcome, but it begins with understanding it and instilling it in non-work-related activities.

Where a wellness programme can come in is when you make it team-based, it’s more likely that various departments will begin to interact with one another and form deeper connections beyond the surface of the job. It starts as simple as letting employees form their own collective wellness programme rather than having the employer make all the decisions. 

More Proactivity

What’s better than a cure? Preventing the problem in the first place. And if you have a robust wellness programme, employees are able to get access to wellness well before any problems begin to arise. If all employees have ready access to physical workout facilities, guided meditations, white noise machines, or counsellors, you can encourage them to use them as resources for their own development. Especially when you stress to them that they are available, part of a hands-off support system, initiatives to help them cope with whatever stress they may personally experience.

More Employee Retention

Many businesses struggle with employee retention. Employees don’t feel like they are cared for enough or don’t understand the company's goal. It makes sense in the current climate that when an employer doesn’t bother to look after employees' needs, they’ll go somewhere else. There are several ways to encourage employees to stay, but a wellness programme specifically can be an overarching message.

Similar to employee loyalty programmes, a company investing in the health and well being of those who work for them shows they care about this duty, and employees will pay this back in kind. Not only in productivity but in loyalty too.

Featured Article: How Remote Work Feels Healthier For Employees

Stronger Reputation

As it turns out, a company that looks after its employees is seen as a good or excellent employer to work for. It’s an additional perk to the job that makes any job offer more tempting. As a result, you’re more likely to get better employees who are just as invested in growing the company as you are.

What's important here is not to confuse reputation with brand. Companies often look for top talent by presenting themselves outwardly to the world in a certain way (brand), and this can be a resilient image tethered to company products, culture, or market success. However, the way you are perceived (reputation) by others is more fluid, since you have no direct control. What you can do is maintain practices and processes in the workplace environment that are important determinants as to how you will be seen externally. This is actually the hard work of cultural change, to ensure an organisation is an advocate for what it purports to be. 

Pick people-centric principles and stick to them. This will influence in a positive manner, build an enduring brand, and your reputation will emerge from this. 

Health (and Mental Health) Benefits For All

Empowering employees goes beyond letting them make key decisions and letting them see the bigger picture. It’s about ensuring employees are looked after and that they have the support for whatever they determine they need to succeed. One of the most overlooked parts of this is a wellness programme that addresses their needs and helps them achieve a work life balance. 

Good health is not a perk, it's the start point for basic quality of life. If businesses respect this as a matter of priority, a positive culture of stress and mental health acknowledgement can emerge. This will exert a positive impact on employee satisfaction, quality, and the work environment. Employers ignoring this risks impacting the life and well being of the company in general, its own 'public health' in terms of reputational standing, and its prospects for long-term success.

Find out which companies are leading with social ESG innovation via our Company ESG Profiles page, with ESG ratings and reports.

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