The pressure to hit financial numbers may tempt leaders of many businesses to focus only on the balance sheet and ignore what turns out to be a quantifiable and manageable lever that is proven to affect the bottom line: the wellbeing of workers.[i] Many assume that wellbeing is a "soft" issue and not a management problem to solve; however, that is a mistake. The potential health benefits of workplace wellbeing programs have been demonstrated in large cohorts for the past four decades and are also inclusive of engagement, retention, and productivity.[ii] Studies show a comprehensive wellbeing strategy and culture positively impact firm performance.
Wellbeing Culture: Leadership Management and Employee Inclusion
Engagement has been a priority for companies for years, but according to Gallup, more progressive employers are beginning to see satisfaction and engagement as just smaller components of what their workforce really cares about, which is wellbeing.
Corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires. Corporate culture also refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company's employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.[iii] Recently employers have been marketing a “culture of wellbeing” to attract and retain top talent, bring out the best in their employees, as well as manage healthcare costs.
Unfortunately, a culture of wellbeing has mostly been a “slogan” or just a generic health program and delegated to the human resources department to tactically manage healthcare costs. Actual wellbeing is not a "program," it is not a “topic," but rather a mindset, ethos, or most successfully a cultural orientation within the workplace. According to a Gallup study in 2019, if employees had higher wellbeing in year one, they would tend to have higher engagement at work in year two as well as increased positive change in wellbeing in year two.
Conversely, if employees are struggling or suffering, this attitude negatively affects the overall workplace environment and the team. Managers highly influence organizational culture, and if managers discuss and promote wellbeing as the norm then his/her employees get more involved in wellbeing activities. If managers are not engaged, then this cascade to employees does not exist.
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Wellbeing cannot be just words on the wall, a standalone online program or part of the culture description on the website. Rather leadership and management must “walk the walk” and make wellbeing part of the norm; the way of doing things around here; and include employees in the development. Organizations need to focus on creating a humanistic culture where people feel like they have meaningful work and purpose, opportunities to engage with their manager, productive and well environments, as well as growth opportunities and trust in leadership.
Wellbeing is an ethos and a commitment to creating a healthier, happier, and more productive workforce, community, and world. It is up to the leaders within organizations to focus on empowering and creating the conditions for employees to thrive and be well personally, professionally, physically and financially. Unfortunately, we still have the debate regarding does wellbeing really make a difference. The answer is yes.
Heightened Stock Performance Attributed to Wellbeing at the Workplace
In their seminal paper, Fabuius, R., Thayer, RD, Konicki, D. (2013) connected the link between workforce health and safety and the health of the bottom line by tracking companies' market performance. The hypothesis that comprehensive efforts to reduce a workforce's health and safety risks can be associated with a company's stock performance was confirmed. The stock market performance of Corporate Health Achievement Award (CHAA) winners were tracked under four different scenarios using simulation and past market performance. The portfolio of companies recognized as award-winning for their approach to the health and safety of their workforce outperformed the market. This evidence supports that building a culture of health and safety provides a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Another study evaluated the stock performance of publicly traded companies that received high scores on the HERO Employee Health Management Best Practices Scorecard in Collaboration with Mercer© based on their implementation of evidence-based workplace health promotion practices.[iv] Their findings reinforced the financial advantage of workplace wellbeing as the stock values for a portfolio of companies that received high scores in a corporate health and wellness self-assessment appreciated by 235% compared with the S&P 500 Index appreciation of 159% over a 6-year simulation period. This study concluded that robust investment in workforce health and wellbeing appears to be one of the many practices pursued by high-performing, well-managed companies.
A study on Koop Health Award-winning companies explored the link between companies investing in health and wellbeing programs of their employees and measured the stock market performance. The hypothesis tested was that companies applying for and winning the Koop Award, thereby earning the distinction of having outstanding workplace health promotion (wellbeing) programs, would realize financial gains that extend beyond those simply offering traditional employee health programs. They used the stock performance of Koop Award winners (n = 26) measured over time and compared with the average performance of companies comprising the Standard and Poor's (S&P) 500 Index. The Koop Award portfolio outperformed the S&P 500 Index. In the 14 years tracked (2000–2014), Koop Award winners’ stock values appreciated by 325% compared with the market average appreciation of 105%.
This study supports the ongoing research demonstrating a higher market valuation—an affirmation of business success by Wall Street investors of companies that invest in the health and wellbeing of their workers when compared with other publicly traded firms. The dividend yield and price to earnings ratio P/E for Koop Awarded companies were compared to the S&P 500 Index. The analysis found that Koop winners produced higher dividends than the S&P 500 (2.31% vs. 1.95%), and their P/E ratio was lower (17.31 vs. 18.27), meaning their performance was not based on overvaluing of the company.
An even more recent study was conducted to evaluate “Does higher employee wellbeing lead to higher productivity, and, ultimately, to tangible benefits to the bottom line of businesses through a meta-analysis of 339 independent research studies.” This included the wellbeing of 1,882,131 employees and the performance of 82,248 business units, originating from 230 independent organizations across 49 industries in the Gallup client database. The results produced a significant, strong positive correlation between employees' satisfaction with their company and employee productivity and customer loyalty, and a strong negative correlation with staff turnover. Ultimately, higher wellbeing at work is positively correlated with more business-unit level profitability.
The robust investment in workforce health and wellbeing appears to be one of the practices pursued by high-performing, well-managed companies. The positive financial results for a company support the need for continuing to cultivate a wellbeing culture, and strategy that is embedded into the ethos of the organization. om the Dashboard and go live with your site by clicking Publish.