Health and Wellness in the Workplace

Organizational health programs are essential for the survival of companies and must therefore be constituted as employee relations programs.  Undoubtedly, a healthy workforce is expected to work wonders for any business by reducing absenteeism and turnover, and increasing employee motivation, productivity and revenues.

Lowe (2004) writes that hundreds of studies have already documented the direct as well as indirect advantages of “healthy work environments” to employees in addition to their organizations (p. 7).  Caring for the workforce is a necessary element of employee relations for this reason.

Indeed, healthy workplaces as well as jobs contribute to the well-being of employees.  These benefits may be realized by the whole organization through lower absenteeism, lower turnover, higher job satisfaction, improved performance on the job, lower rates of accident, in addition to “reduced health benefit and worker compensation costs (Lowe, p. 7).”

Moreover, research has revealed that the largest gains in productivity may be realized by the organization that changes the entire work environment to make it healthier for all employees – regardless of whether its work toward this end is considered part of its employee relations programs (Lowe).  The need for disciplinary action may be lessened with such programs, too, as a healthier workforce makes for overall satisfaction in the workplace.

Research has also shown that the impact of poor health is keenly felt in the work environment, so therefore managers require an improved understanding of the dangers of allowing minor symptoms to escalate.  Four in ten managers who participated in a recently conducted survey related to workplace health and wellness complained that they often become angry with others and feel humorless due to pressure.

More than fifty percent of the managers complained of physical pain, at the same time as forty four percent reported experiencing frequent headaches.  Additionally, fifty five percent complained of constant tiredness, fifty seven percent complained of insomnia, while twenty percent stated that they found it difficult to make decisions because of ill health (“Poor Health,” 2006).

Unsurprisingly, these results demand organisations to put effective health and wellness programs in place for all employees.  Sick and dissatisfied employees are not likely to be highly productive in any case.  Besides, there are no legal restrictions on the number of paid holidays that the organization – as a gesture of goodwill – may grant its employees that do not seem to fare too well because of ill health, given their capabilities.

In the United States, businesses are known to spend at least U.S. $450 billion every year on direct health care.  Poor health costs around U.S. $225.8 billion to American businesses each year through absenteeism as well as productivity losses that are related to the health problems of employees and their families.

Employee burnout is a reality of the workforce.  Hence, insurers as well as employers have started to create a large number of health promotion and prevention programs which have already started to pay handsome dividends.

According to a study, American employers may “reap the average of [U.S.] $3.48 in reduced health care costs and [U.S.] $5.82 in lower absenteeism costs for every dollar invested in employee wellness (Toomey, 2006, p. 13).”

  Of course, these benefits may be realized anywhere in the world.  In the United Kingdom, three quarters of a million workers are known to take time off work each year due to work-related illnesses (Firman, 2006).  Nervous breakdowns are not uncommon either.  These illnesses are further known to cost businesses as much as ten percent of their total payroll costs.