Strong business case for investing in health of staff

There are clear business benefits to supporting employee health and wellbeing, says a new CBI and Medicash report today. The UK’s leading business group has outlined how improving employee health can contribute to better business performance through lower absence, higher productivity and better employee engagement.

The direct costs of employee absence to the economy are estimated at over £14 billion per year – and the CBI’s latest absence survey found that the average total cost to business for each absent employee is £975. These figures would be higher still if productivity lost due to presenteeism – staff attending work despite being unwell – was included as well.

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment and Skills, said: “Having healthy staff is an essential part of running a healthy business.

“Investing in the wellbeing of employees is not only the right thing to do, it has real business benefits.

“It’s time for businesses and government to work hand-in-hand to move from a reactive to proactive approach on health and wellbeing in the workplace.

“Encouraging investment that gets people back to work sooner, with less of a burden on the NHS, is in everybody’s interest.”

Sue Weir, CEO of Medicash, said: “Developing and implementing a targeted healthcare strategy can help business avoid costly absenteeism and ensure their workforce is a happy, healthy and committed one.

“That’s why more and more businesses looking to increase output and maximise business performance are putting into place robust health and wellbeing strategies.

“Offering a health and wellbeing package is an affordable and beneficial means of doing this and of attracting, motivating, rewarding and retaining staff.”

The new CBI report – Getting Better: Workplace health as a business issue – outlines exactly how businesses can improve the wellbeing of their staff and provides a practical toolkit to support firms, based on the experience of CBI members to date.

Key actions that businesses can take to improve employee health include:

  • Develop joined-up health and wellbeing programmes which factor in emerging public health trends
  • Take a proactive and preventative approach to health and wellbeing to influence employee behaviour
  • Equip managers with the knowledge and support to handle health conditions as swiftly as possible
  • Ensure robust systems are in place to effectively manage absence and the return to work.

The CBI is urging the Government to support businesses doing this by:

  • Promoting the new Health and Work Service, and ensuring it’s the default option for employees absent from the workplace for four weeks or more
  • Using tax relief and incentives to encourage employer-funded interventions into health conditions at earlier points, taking the burden off the NHS and getting people back to work sooner
  • Promoting the benefits of flexible working as a route to helping absent employees back into the workplace
  • Continuing to raise awareness of key public health issues.
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