Health & Wellbeing – it’s more than yoga and fruit on a Friday

We spoke to our Care Network member, Equipsme, who have provided this guest blog post all about Health & Wellbeing in the workplace.

Some businesses seem to be hooked on the latest gimmicks and trends – how about morning yoga, meditation, mindfulness or ‘gratitude’ sessions? Others are offering free fruit, bean bags in breakout areas, gym memberships and office allotments to improve the office “vibe”.  But let’s get real for a minute.  

We’ve got nothing against yoga, free bananas or even whale music but if you’re serious about wellbeing in the workplace, there are some very practical measures that you can take to support the health of your greatest asset – your team.

An independent Government review in 2017 highlighted a significant return for employers investing in mental health interventions: an average of £4.20 for every £1 (with a range up to £9). Meanwhile, a study from London Business School suggests companies with high levels of wellbeing outperform the stock market by 2-3% a year.

We’re not sure they’ve quite gotten around to evaluating bring your dog to work policies…

The business cost of poor wellbeing

Sickness absence

According to the CBI, health-related absence costs SMEs £782 per person per year. Minor illnesses, such as colds are the biggest cause, totalling 34.5% of the working hours lost to illness in 2017, with a further 17.7% due to musculoskeletal (muscles, bones, and joints) issues, such as back problems, and 7.6% resulting from stress, depression or anxiety.


Working while unwell also has a cost to business in terms of lowered productivity and performance. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 88% of the businesses in its Health and Wellbeing at Work 2018 survey said that they had been aware of presenteeism in the last 12 months, and research from Nottingham Trent University showed that productivity loss from presenteeism could cost businesses even more than the time lost through sickness absence.

Mental health & stress

Research by mental health charity Mind found that 48% of employees have experienced a mental health problem in their current job and figures from Investors in People show that as many as 80% of UK workers say they are stressed.

Employers have noticed the problem too; according to the CIPD, 37% of organisations say that they have seen an increase in workforce stress over the last 12 months.

Thriving at Work, along with high-profile campaigns such as Mental Health at Work and Heads Together have helped to improve openness around mental health at work and in society as a whole.

However, businesses are still finding it hard to deliver effective support for employees who are struggling and suffer financially as a result. Mind found that 14% of workers said that they had resigned and 42% had considered resigning as a result of job-related stress.

Deloitte has quantified the cost to business at between £33bn and £42bn a year, which it defines as: absence costs of around £8bn, presenteeism costs of between £17bn and £26bn, and turnover costs of a further £8bn.

The cost of waiting

We’re all having to wait longer before we can see a doctor in Britain. Many of those in full time employment (43%) want to see a doctor on the day they call but only a third get an appointment on the same day. Ten per cent get one the following day. A staggering one in four have to wait for at least a week.

The anxiety caused by waiting and the potential health implications of worsening conditions are also a concern for employees and employers alike.

The benefits of looking after employees’ health

Counting the cost to business of not investing in employee health is only half of the story. The benefits are also quantifiable. 

Alex Edmans, professor of finance at London Business School, explored the relationship between employee satisfaction and share price for US-based companies named in the annual 100 Best Companies to Work For listing.

He found that businesses with high employee wellbeing and engagement produced returns that were 2.3 to 3.8% per year higher than other businesses in the same sectors over a 28-year period. That equates to between 89% to 184% better compound performance.

In the past, ’employee wellbeing’ might have been hard-to-quantify and nice-to-have, but there is now a body of evidence that shows taking care of staff health really does make a difference to business efficiency. 

Start at the top

Providing practical and affordable health insurance for businesses of all sizes is easier than you may think. For £8.50 per person per month, employers can support their teams with 24/7 access to a remote GP service, private physiotherapy appointments and confidential stress support, which includes face to face counselling sessions. Equipsme is available for your organisation through McClarrons – please get in touch if you would like further information by emailing or calling 01653 697055.

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