The importance of employee health and happiness - Business Works
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The importance of employee health and happiness

by Sam Walsh, General Manager, Direct365 Any Director knows that when asked whether employee health and happiness is important, they should nod furiously and assert that yes, of course, it's at the helm of their business strategy. Too often, however, employers fail to realise the true extent of the issue, says Sam Walsh, GM at Direct365.

The statistics speak for themselves. Here are a few to show you just how important it is to look after your staff.


According to a report collated for Investors in People UK, 200 million work days every year are lost in the UK through sickness leave. That's an average of 8.5 days per person per annum.

The estimated collective cost of all of those sniffles - or at least reported sniffles - is a staggering £13 billion per year.

So, how can employers counter this major business issue? Well, the good news is that, thanks to the NHS, you don't need to provide health insurance like business owners in the US - for now, at least. Absenteeism isn't necessarily resolved through healthcare; it has far more to do with heightening employee engagement.

The calls that you feel are fake? You can prevent those. These absences are caused by a lack of commitment to the job. This could be anything from a terrible pay packet to lack of opportunity to progress and monotonous tasks. Higher absence rates mean lower customer satisfaction rates.

It's a chain reaction that, if left unchecked, sinks a company.

some praise a day keeps those sick days away

Ask them where you think the company could improve. Make sure they know that their opinion is valued and that their contributions to the company are recognised. Some praise a day keeps those sick days away.


Believe it or not, ill health in the workplace affects productivity so much that in total it exceeds the cost of absences - quite substantially, in fact. The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, in a report published in 2007, estimated that the cost of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety is an astounding £15 billion per year. That doesn't even include the impact that physical illness including disability and obesity have on productivity.

Imagine you have an employee called Hannah who comes down with the flu. Hannah is pressured by her boss to come into work because there are deadlines to be met. She works at around 30% her normal capacity for five days, recovering over the weekend.

Alternatively, Hannah's boss gives her two days off, telling her to rest well and assuring her that her deadlines will be pushed back to accommodate. She rests and recovers in two days, spending three working at 100% capacity.

Despite being in work for less time, Hannah has done more than three times as much work as she would if she had worked through her cold. Plus, she hasn't spread her illness around the office.

Take pressure off your employees to come into work if they're not able to. Those with longer term issues - such as depression or disability - you need to actively work with. Offer them professional help paid for by the company. They'll feel valued and will be more equipped to get their work done effectively.

Also, you should do your best to make your staff feel as comfortable as possible. That means providing adequate workplace facilities, offering support to staff who might suffer from eye strain (those sat staring at a computer monitor all day) and ensuring that sufficient first aid provisions are in place.


Your employees are not disposable assets. Even from a fiscal point of view, replacing an employee is definitely not an ideal alternative to retention, with the CIPD estimating that the direct and indirect costs of replacing an employee totals £6000.

Influential factors include how long the post is vacant, the costs of recruitment - for anyone using an agency, this will be considerably more - and the costs of training. Additionally, you need to factor in the initial loss of productivity as the new employee familiarises themselves with the job requirements and the working environment.

Retention can be improved by better employee interaction. You need to learn about their goals and aspirations through one-to-ones, so make time to hear them out. Construct opportunities for them to progress, both in what they earn and the job that they're best at. Acknowledge the work that they do well and offer advice in any that they struggle with.

So yes, employee health and happiness is very important. It can mean the difference between failure and success for your business.

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