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Employee Wellbeing - the Catalyst for Success

17/09/2015 15:53 BST | Updated 13/09/2016 10:12 BST

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The term 'wellbeing' refers to a state of being comfortable, healthy or happy - something which employers all over the world are striving to achieve for their employees.

Companies who work to this objective and look after their employees can expect to see up to a 31% increase in productivity, according to The Harvard Business Review. Statistics such as these support the claim that employee wellbeing is a catalyst for success. And unsurprisingly, companies nationwide are now seeing the value in this and are increasingly offering wellness perks as part of their benefits packages - from discounted or free gym memberships to the less frequent nap rooms and treadmill desks.

The potential advantage of offering wellness perks are fourfold: help to attract and retain employees, reduce absenteeism and increase productivity. With an outcome like this, it simply doesn't make business sense to consider employees' wellbeing as an afterthought. Take for example retaining employees - reports have shown that replacing members of staff can cost a business up to £30,000. With the amount of training required to get even the most business-savvy and experienced individual up-to-date, it is far more efficient to put a strategy in place that will help to retain employees.

Absenteeism - an issue that all businesses face and many struggle to tackle - is estimated to cost the UK economy £8.4 billion per annum, according to the Centre for Mental Health. In contrast however, it is estimated that 'presenteeism' - a person who suffers mental ill health and is therefore 'present' in body but 'absent' in mind - costs the UK economy £15.1 billion.

Whilst 'presenteeism' may be more difficult to recognise and measure, it is clear that businesses should not ignore this. It's important for employers to discover a positive approach to dealing with mental health - for example learn how to spot the signs, engage with the problem and promote a culture whereby employees feel that they can open up about mental health issues.

On the flip side, absenteeism is quantifiable, however, not necessarily any easier to tackle. As we are all only human, falling ill is inevitable - whether it be a bad case of the common cold, a stomach bug or a life-altering medical diagnosis. And whilst businesses can help to promote a healthy lifestyle and subsequently reduce some instances of nonattendance, eliminating this issue entirely is simply unrealistic.

For start-ups and SMEs, where the offering of wellness perks perhaps isn't a financial option, there are a number of small changes that can be made to improve the working environment and ultimately increase employee wellbeing. Research by the Confederation of British Industry shows that back pain is one of the biggest causes of absenteeism in the UK. Investing in the right office equipment is therefore essential - for example chairs with adequate back support and ergonomic keyboards. If a business wants to go above and beyond for their staff, there are also a number of posture devices available on the market which can help to combat bad posture. Other worthwhile and rewarding investments include upgrading the lighting fixtures to ensure that the proper amount of light is being emitted. Inadequate lighting can affect employees' wellbeing and inflict eye discomfort which can ultimately affect productivity.

All businesses, however big or small, have the capacity to build a working environment that promotes the four pillars of wellness - physical health, mental health, social wellbeing and spiritual wellbeing. Striving to achieve complete wellness for employees will not only have a positive effect on them as individuals but as studies prove, it will also have a positive impact on the business.

There's no doubt that a business filled with healthy and happy employees will go a long way towards achieving a great return on investment!

[Image credit: Calita]