Dr Ron Ehrlich (pictured below) delivers keynotes and wellness workshops and is the author of A Life Less Stressed; the 5 Pillars Of Health & Wellness. In this guest post, the goodly Doctor says investing into employee health typically returns on the bottomline too…
A business focused on the health of its team, is a business people will want to work in, and a business people will want to work with.
Our work force reflects our society, and things are not looking great. As a society in Australia we spend $170 billion or just over 10 per cent of GDP on healthcare. According to a report absenteeism and presenteeism, that is showing up for work but not being at your best, costs the Australian economy $35 billion/year or three per cent of GDP. When organisations also factor in the indirect costs of absenteeism, such as replacement labour, lost productivity and increased risk, absenteeism comes at huge costs, particularly to those that have to cover for it.
Stress clearly plays a significant part in our lives. Over 53 per cent of the Australian workers surveyed, said they feel over-whelmed a significant proportion of the time. Business leaders are not immune from stress either, with studies showing that up to 80 per cent of business leaders are concerned about stress in their workplace.
Not surprisingly, healthy workers are more productive than unhealthy workers. Healthy workers are three time more effective (143 effective hours per month), than unhealthy workers (49 effective hours per month). A 2016 report showed that absenteeism had increased by over 10 per cent from the previous 12 months, so it’s a growing problem. Employees that are unhealthy are nine times more likely to take sick leave than healthy employees, with 18 days per year lost compared to two days per year.
Whichever way you look at it the financial cost is huge, dwarfed only by the human cost in lost potential, as well as the stress placed on the workforce and their managers.
Businesses that do not manage health well are four times more likely to lose talent in the next twelve months. It has been estimated that staff turnover costs Australian businesses $20 billion dollars per year.
Another factor that seems to be affecting everyone and particularly those in the workforce is mental health, a huge and growing problem affecting people at an ever-younger age, which in turn affects all involved. The cost of mental health varies from $20 billion to over $156 billion dollars when broader parameters of social and financial impact are included.
Business leaders are uniquely placed to directly influence the health of those they lead, and in turn their families. A holistic approach to workers health, factors in this issue. The return on investment is significant. Research shows that there is a saving of $5.81 for every $1 invested in employee health and wellbeing in less absenteeism, greater productivity, better morale and less staff turnover. And that’s just the financial return. It’s easier to manage a healthier workforce.
A leader focused on a healthy workplace, invariably leads a healthier business. The trickle-down effect of recognising and prioritising the greatest asset of any business, the people that reflect its values and deliver its services, is part of what it takes to be a great leader of a healthy business.
While many businesses recognise health is important, what is the best approach? With knowledge comes power. Most people acknowledge that stress adversely affects their health, so defining what those stressors are is a good start. In order to solve a problem, it helps to know what that problem is. Recognising and minimising stressors is key. Then, to build resilience by focusing on five pillars of health, by prioritising sleep, breathe, nourish, move and think.
Imagine a wellness program focused on sleep and breathe. More than half of the Australian workers surveyed don’t get enough sleep, which affects every measure of physical and mental health. Poor sleep, affects memory, empathy, cognitive skills, energy levels, immune system and much more, in turn affecting engagement and productivity. Lack of quality sleep is a significant business issue, affecting leaders and employees alike.
In order to fulfil potential, whether it be as individuals, part of a family or community, or as an integral part of a business, being healthy is central to that goal.
There has never been a more important time or opportunity for leaders to lead, and effect a profound and positive change, not just for their company but for society as a whole. Rather than the workplace being a big part of the problem it’s an opportunity to lead the solutions. Investing in a healthy team builds a healthy company. A company people will want to work in, and a company people will want to work with.