Making The Case For Employee Well-Being

Why companies should care about the health of their employees

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Richard Branson running the Virgin Money London Marathon,

Employee well-being is becoming a big business driven by the rising costs of healthcare and the endless mental, financial and physical health issues in America. Millions of people are suffering from mental illness, the burdens of student loan and credit card debt and physical injury. According to the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, an entire 40 percent of American adults are obese! Employees are working more hours than before, yet their salaries have remained stagnant, while health care costs have risen faster than their income. Companies can’t maximize the productivity of their workers, when their healthy is the top priority. When workers are unhealthy, they take days off, could spread the sickness to co-workers or produce lower quality work.

Healthcare costs will increase even more in 2018, from 5% to 6.5%, from an average national cost of $12,200 to $12,850 for each employee. Today, companies are taking employee well-being seriously because it can be a major financial cost to them, as well as an impediment on business growth. In a recent study, in partnership with Kronos, we interviewed over eight hundred HR and payroll leaders and found that a fourth said the ACA Healthcare Reform will have the biggest regularly impact on their organization. We found that every regulation change can cost a company up to $100,000 on top of the cost of healthcare per employee.

One of the most prominent leaders in the employee well-being conversation is Richard Branson, the Founder and Chairman of the Virgin Group. When I was in San Francisco, I sat down with Branson to discuss his new book “Finding My Virginity“. He told me that “Any good and sensible company and will come up with clever ways to try to incentivize their employees to get fit. We give people air miles for flying a lot, so we should give people miles and rewards for keeping healthy and fit.” As part of the Virgin Group, he launched Virgin Pulse to encourage companies to get their employees health and fit. The company recently released a survey that found that 78 percent of organizations view employee well-being as a critical component of their business strategy. 

Corporate well-being programs generate a positive return on investment. The Rand Corporation found that for every dollar spent on a well-being program, a company benefits between $1.50 and $3 over a two to nine year timeframe. As evidence, Johnson & Johnson has saved over $250 million on health care costs with their programs, resulting in $2.71 from every dollar spent. We will see more companies invest in these programs because it saves money, increases productivity and is a strong retention tool. When employees are stressed out, and burned out, it can lead to them quitting and companies having to fill those gaps. 

Employees are not off the hook from focusing on their own well-being at work. Just because companies are investing in programs, doesn’t mean everyone is going to an on-site gym or taking a health assessment. Employees need to do their part by taking advantage of these facilities, eating better, and exercising regularly. Well-being should be an important focus for companies and employees because it’s good for business and for our lives.

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