The business case for Wellbeing

Although the benefits of a Wellbeing policy and process for business may seem obvious, most businesses will want to see a return on the their investment in the Wellbeing process (ROI).

Now this return can be obviously financial in terms of increased sales or profits. It can also be measured by:

  • Staff turnover
  • Absenteeism
  • Increase in productivity
  • Improved scores on Employee opinion surveys
  • Better scores from customers
  • Reduction in customer complaints or returns
  • Increase in quality

There are other measures, but the point is that Wellbeing can be measured, and therefore justified as a cost. Here is just one example of the benefits of a Wellbeing process at work:

South Liverpool Homes (SLH), housing association, has put in place a holistic health and well-being programme that is fully integrated into the business. The project began in 2013 by talking to colleagues about well-being. It was clear that people wanted a greater choice of offerings and people highlighted a number of areas which were outside of the typical initiatives associated with a well-being programme, including wider employment practice such as policies, terms and conditions and the benefits package. SLH extended the scope of well-being into its overall people approach and how it operates as a business more generally, realising that this was how a focus on well-being would become part and parcel of what SLH is all about.

At SLH it was key that the whole business ‘owned’ the focus on well-being: the chief executive and head of HR and organisational development were key project members, and staff forum representatives acted as champions for the review. There were also mini surveys, drop-in sessions and team meetings. SLH took a phased approach to implementation to make sure that any ‘quick wins’ could be immediately implemented, while longer-term improvements that require more attention to detail and further exploration get the attention they need.

The major objective of SLH’s project was to improve the health and well-being of its colleagues; the organisation knew that investment in this area would, in turn, then benefit the business, helping retain our talented staff, thereby increasing staff productivity, and ultimately providing a great service to the South Liverpool community.

The impact so far has included:

  • sickness absence for the period September 2013 – March 2014 decreased 54% in comparison with the same period 12 months earlier (September 2012 – March 2013) resulting in a cost saving of £25,000 to SLH
  • in March 2015 SLH retained first place in the Sunday Times 100 ‘Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For’ list • in achieving IIP Gold status in November 2013, the assessor evidenced ‘flexibility in terms of support, evidence of compassionate managers and wellbeing events linked to reduced sickness’
  • overall, customer satisfaction has increased to 90% since the revision of the SLH well-being offer
  • SLH took the top spot in the ‘Best Health and Well-being Initiative’ category at the 2014 CIPD People Management Awards.

So there you have it. Wellbeing isn’t just about providing plants in the office, a vegetarian option in the staff café and having 20 minute walks at lunchtime. Wellbeing must be a holistic approach that looks at all aspects of the employee experience, including the values of the company and the communication skills of all staff. There is no point in having evening meditation sessions if the line management are encouraged to manage their staff with fear and intimidation. The whole of a business needs to be reviewed. From the SLH study, that change will bear fruit and have a long term positive result.