Picture of Matthew
Health issues are hitting the bottom line
by Matthew - Monday, 19 September 2011, 11:56 AM
How health issues like stress are hitting the bottom line

Stressed manA new analysis carried out by American researchers suggests that unhealthy workers are up to 12% less productive than their healthy colleagues, costing organisations millions.

More and more firms are turning to staff "wellness" programmes as a way of reducing costs, improving performance and saving money. While some employees may resent the idea of bosses monitoring their health, the idea has the backing of the Department of Health which says companies can "more than reap a return on investment".

A conference in Central London to be held on 19th September will hear from world leaders on the subject of employee health and how it links to the bottom line. Professor Dee Edington, from the University of Michigan, says shareholders in Britain need to wake up to the savings that could be made from a fitter workforce.

"Health is an economic issue. It is a business strategy about being able to stay healthy and pick up the pace".

According to Mr Edington's model, there are around a dozen health risks which, when combined, can impact directly on performance at work. They include weight, stress levels, blood pressure, life satisfaction, smoking and high cholesterol. The average healthy worker performs at around 85 per cent productivity. However, staff with three or four conditions can be 6.2 per cent less productive than healthier colleagues, and those with five or more are 12.2 per cent less effective.

Despite United States companies getting an estimated return of $3 for every $1 spent of improving staff health, Professor Edington cautioned against emulating a US approach where firms bluntly told staff "you are fat". Directors need to improve the workplace first, including cutting fried food in canteens, opening up stairwells to make them a more attractive alternative to lifts, and permitting flexible working. Only then can employees be expected to change their life styles, with employers offering personal trainers to help overweight employees. "I think individual coaching is really the right way to make these things happen."

The Independent. Sunday, 18 September 2011

design: pteppic.net