WHAT ARE THE COSTS OF UNHEALTHY EMPLOYEES TO BUSINESSES?
Why are two of Australia’s most iconic brands, Swisse and Medibank, investing substantial money into the health and wellness of their employees?
For former CEO of Swisse, Radek Sali, happy and successful employees equated to a happy and successful business.
“People are not just one of the reasons we succeed, rather, they are the reason we succeed,” Sali said.
As such, both brands have developed a strong dedication to a health-focused culture based around vision and workplace design, and they’ve been doing it for a long time. Here’s how they do it.
A people-first culture
At Swisse, the team works to the tune of their mantra, ‘Celebrate Life Every Day’. This mantra isn’t just tucked into an onboarding handbook, it’s present in many highly visible aspects of their day to day, including a huge ‘CLED’ sign in the aptly named CLED café at the Collingwood support office.
This was built on their core principles known as the four Ps; People, Principles, and Passion before Profit. Consistently championed by the executive leadership team throughout the years, this mentality has permeated through their business for a lasting effect.
Healthy workplace design
Medibank’s tagline is ‘For Better Health’ and it’s clear how this vision manifests itself in the company’s head office building in Melbourne. Setting out to create one of the healthiest workplaces in the world, the design of their building has picked up seven prestigious awards for workplace interior design, office design and sustainability.
The designers started with the intention to offer staff every opportunity to be active and healthy. The key focal points in the design that helped to achieve this was an overall layout that increased movement and collaboration. Different work zones and several internal stairwells are paired with hot desking, encouraging employees to keep moving throughout their workday.
How does it affect my business?
Investing in the health and wellbeing of your people can lead to significant benefits for your team and for your business’s bottom line. Let’s take a look at the impact of sick leave and mental wellbeing.
Reduce sick leave at your office
A study by Medibank Australia found that unhealthy employees take up to nine times more sick days than their healthy colleagues in Australia. As a result, poor employee health is costing Australian businesses $7 billion annually.
In the United States, a similar story can be seen where unhealthier employees run a higher risk of developing a chronic health condition, such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, resulting in an average of 12 sick days per year.
What mental wellbeing can offer your business
While mental health is often less visible than physical health, a stress-related illness that can impact otherwise healthy employees.
Australian businesses lose more than $6.5 billion annually by failing to provide early intervention and treatment for employees with mental health conditions.
Here are three steps to tackle stress:
- Reduce stressors by reducing job demands and improving support systems.
- For short term stress, consider how your office perceives and responds to expressions of stress to see if it’s affecting your culture..
- Seek supportive assistance from your workplace.
The cost of an ‘unhealthy’ work environment goes beyond your workers stress levels and potential for physical illness, it could also be costing your business in productivity, performance and personal leave.
Luckily we can start today by focusing on culture, and placing a higher value on health as a foundation to the success of our workday.