Thinking beyond the obvious to increase your business’ bottom line

13 January 2016 Rigitté van Zyl, MMI
Rigitté van Zyl, MMI Corporate and Public sector.

Rigitté van Zyl, MMI Corporate and Public sector.

A healthy workforce is directly correlated to high levels of productivity and a business’ positive bottom-line performance. Statistics show that financial and wellness factors troubling an employee lead to, on average, 20 unproductive work hours per month. Employers can improve the lifetime financial wellness of their businesses by enhancing the productivity of their workforce.

Employees’ productivity is generally measured by considering their absenteeism and presenteeism. ‘Absenteeism’ refers to the loss of productivity when employees are on sick leave or family responsibility leave; while ‘presenteeism’ is the loss of productivity while employees are at work but not engaged with their job.

Productivity is affected by an employee’s health, financial stress, work-life balance, personal life impacts, stress, job satisfaction, personal characteristics and the company’s characteristics.

Understanding the problem

Poor health

Healthy employees are more productive and it is in the interest of a business to help their employees to be healthy. Everyday poor health can be caused by acute conditions like flu or by chronic conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Although businesses have limited control over their employees’ acute conditions, they can influence how their chronic conditions are managed and improved. Chronic conditions can be due to hereditary causes or due to modifiable risk behaviours.

Hereditary conditions can be managed through following the correct treatment protocol. Chronic conditions caused by modifiable risk behaviours are mostly caused by four main modifiable risk behaviours: physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, smoking and the harmful use of alcohol. These behaviours lead to conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory illnesses, which causes 60% of deaths world-wide. Businesses can encourage employees to change their modifiable risk behaviours.

The above situation causes an increase in absenteeism and presenteeism which causes a downturn in productivity.

Financial stress

The impact of financial stress on the employee includes an increase in physical illnesses which in turn causes an increase in their health expenses and their unproductive hours at work. The business then suffers a negative impact on their bottom line due to the increase in the employee’s absenteeism and presenteeism and increased work-related accidents. In the end, it is both the employee and employer who will experience a decrease in their financial wellness.

Understanding the solution

Regardless of the size of a business, most employees turn to their employer in times of financial difficulty. Seventy three per cent of employees and 64% of employers say that retirement and insurance benefits provide peace of mind for the unexpected. Businesses may not be able to assist their employees with all their financial worries but can assist their employees by offering them solutions designed to reduce financial stress and improving their health. Such benefits may help employers to enhance the productivity of their workforce by improving their lifestyle through being more active, improving their diet, helping them to quit smoking and taking care of their mental well-being by reducing their financial stress. In turn, thinking beyond the obvious can increase your business’ bottom line.

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