Not every employer is lucky enough to have a highly motivated, productive workforce, but then again, not every business owner understands the impact of health benefits on employee productivity. Investing in employee wellness has been shown to reduce absenteeism and presenteeism, boost morale, and motivate them to work harder and, hopefully, smarter.
A few years ago, the Wall Street Journal reported on a study that found that healthy workers are more productive. The study made on a small number of employees at Midwest commercial laundry plants found an average 4% increase in the productivity of individuals who had taken part in employer-sponsored health programs.
Among those individuals were sick employees who saw a noticeable improvement in health from one screening to the next. More specifically, their productivity grew by 10.8%. The authors of the study attributed the productivity boost to those workers making lifestyle changes such as getting more exercise, improving nutrition, and lowering stress levels.
The days of health insurance being the only real health benefits offering for employees are over. For decades, businesses around the world have steadily adopted a holistic view of worker wellbeing. If health insurance is the only health-related benefit that you offer your workers, it’s time to re-think the situation.
Unhealthy Employees Are Unproductive
According to WellSteps CEO Dr. Steven Aldana, unhealthy employees are unproductive employees, as they tend to have high instances of absenteeism and presenteeism. Absenteeism is when workers don’t come to work, whether they’re booked off by a doctor or not.
Presenteeism is when workers come to work, but don’t actually do much. They’re either too distracted by co-workers, spending a lot of time on social media, unfamiliar with the tools or equipment, or tired or lethargic.
Poor Health And Presenteeism
According to research published in the journal Population Health Management, poor health is one of the leading causes of presenteeism. Researchers found that workers who didn’t get regular exercise were 50% more likely to have high levels of presenteeism than those who exercised regularly.
Other findings also demonstrated a link between unhealthy lifestyle choices and presenteeism. Workers with bad diets were 66% more likely to be highly unproductive than employees who ate fruit, vegetables, and whole grain. On the other hand, smokers were 28% more likely to be more unproductive at work than non-smokers.
Those unhealthy habits can lead to issues such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity, which could further affect those workers’ productivity. Other health issues that can increase the chances of high presenteeism include chronic disease, pain, depression, as well as various risk factors. For example, workers who suffer from back or neck pain were 79% more likely to have high instances of presenteeism than those without.
Health and wellness benefits that encourage and empower your employees to make positive and healthy lifestyle changes can help solve issues of presenteeism and absenteeism in your business.
Health Benefits And Absenteeism
More than 50 papers have explored the link between worksite health programs and reduced absenteeism. Dr. Aldana, who wrote a summary of the findings, said that a comprehensive wellbeing program at the workplace can help employees in various ways.
Workers with healthy habits and lifestyle choices, and those with healthy glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure are less likely to be absent at work. Employees who aren’t overweight, as well as those who can control or manage their stress, also had lower absenteeism than their unhealthy co-workers.
According to Dr. Aldana, health benefits offerings such as wellbeing programs can save money for your business in the long run. The CEO explained that Harvard researchers who examined wellbeing programs’ ROI in relation to absenteeism found that for every $1 spent by programs, they can reduce absenteeism and save $2.73.
Dr. Aldana added that a comprehensive program doesn’t only focus on improving the employees’ physical health—they also boost morale. If workers feel motivated, they’re more likely to be present and productive.
Recruitment, Retention, And Health Benefits
Absenteeism and presenteeism are not the only issues that can affect employee productivity. A high staff turnover can make at least some of your workforce less productive. Recruiting a fit candidate can take time, which means other employees may need to juggle responsibilities for a while.
When you do hire a new worker, their productivity levels are likely to be low at first, as they probably need to undergo some training and acclimatize to the job, their colleagues, and possibly a new workspace. They may make mistakes that can be time-consuming to correct, too.
However, according to Human Resource Executive, a 2019 survey by health savings account company, Lively, showed that attractive health benefits can improve recruitment and retention. The survey found that 40% of employees listed healthcare as the most important benefit when considering applying for a new job. In fact, 73% of respondents listed healthcare among their top three priorities.
By now, you might be wondering what sort of health benefits you should consider offering to your employees, specifically ones that won’t break the bank. One thing you can do to make things easier for both you and your business is to team up with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) that can negotiate better health benefits and take over various HR and administrative functions.
The best PEOs have established relationships with insurance and healthcare companies, and have far more purchasing power than most businesses. They can use these relationships and power to secure lower rates and the best benefit plans, all of which are to your advantage. They’re also able to advise you on what benefits would be best for your workplace and why.
Health Benefits Offerings to Consider
A holistic view of employee health and wellness takes into consideration the individual as a human being. When deciding what health benefits to offer to your workers, consider those that will empower them to make positive changes and support the wellbeing of their body, mind, and soul.
Instead of the old standard health insurance benefits, offer them a package that covers allopathic medicine as well as therapies such as aromatherapy, acupuncture, and therapeutic massage. Also offer regular company health and screening days at work, health incentives programs, free gym membership, mental health awareness days, inexpensive or free childcare, options for telecommuting, flexi-hours, and birthdays off.
If health benefits were important to people before the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s going to be an even higher priority now. Make an attractive offering to your employees and change their productivity for the better.