14th July, 2020
Corporate Wellness is emerging as crucial for SMEs preparing for return to work. Here’s what you need to consider.
As businesses scramble to find the best way to safely welcome staff back into the workplace, the concept of ‘Corporate Wellness’ will be front of mind. Particularly given that COVID-19 has put an extra layer of pressure on staff in the workplace.
It’s a concept that has been a keen focus for governments and employers internationally for a number of years. Which is hardly surprising given that we spend approximately one-third of adult life at work.
One report reveals that employers bear many of the indirect costs associated with chronic disease and ill health. In fact, the estimated cost of absenteeism to the Australian economy alone is $7 billion each year.
Meanwhile, the cost of presenteeism (not fully functioning at work because of medical conditions) is nearly four times more than absenteeism, at almost $26 billion, the report reveals.
Meanwhile, lifestyle-related illness has a huge impact on the already crumbling economy.
One study conducted last year reveals that annual productivity loss of up to $14.9 billion could be attributed to obesity, and up to $10.5 billion due to tobacco.
The role of mental health plays a huge part too. Not only does a person’s mental state affect their capacity to act in a safe way, it also affects their perception of risk. Meanwhile, the same report reveals that there is evidence that the evidence of workplace stress is growing.
And as small business owners scramble to cope with lockdown and eventually map out a safe way for employees to return to the workplace, Corporate Wellness will no doubt be part of their considerations.
Well before the coronavirus and lockdowns, employees were already considered to be working longer hours and dealing with greater levels of stress than ever before.
Some businesses have been contemplating how to adopt corporate wellness strategies to retain their best people and ensure they’re at the top of their game.
Corporate Wellness expert Rob Lyon is the founder of Lyon Health. He’s been working in this space for 15 years, and says that Corporate Wellness is far more than just about adding a well-stocked fruit basket to the lunchroom.
During some 20-minute health consultations, employees reveal that they haven’t talked about their own health in many years and are grateful for the opportunity to do so in the workplace, he said.
In this day and age, businesses have a duty of care to consider when it comes to considering the health and wellness of each and every employee, he said.
“When you’re hiring the best and the brightest into your business and paying them $100,000 a year, you want to be making sure they’re operating at their best. Corporate Wellness is fast becoming an important part of dealing with burn-out, stress and anxiety,” said Lyon.
Lyon admits that measuring the impact of wellness programs within a business can be difficult to quantify.
There are no industry standards to measure against, and there are no stand formulas used to assess return on investment.
But indirect benefits to businesses include better productivity levels, improved employee retention, greater decision-making skills and better team unity among staff.
The loss of the workplace community and culture has been tough during lockdown, but businesses have been adapting, he said.
Virtual group yoga sessions and regular video calls to check in with staff can be extremely important for employees.
Small businesses should look for ways to maintain a cohesive group nature. For example, meeting up at 8.30am and going for a walk together and grabbing a coffee and a chat on the way to the office can have a huge impact on mental health for employees, he added.
Some of Lyon’s clients invest around $45,000 a year on rolling out his programs, which aim to bolster employee productivity, fitness, health and wellness.
But small businesses looking to implement some elements of Corporate Wellness don’t need to spend a fortune.
Lyon suggests starting small. For example, introducing psychology services into the workplace, or sharing government-led information about the importance of Mental health, such as this Corporate Toolbox, which is free.
Encouraging staff to take care of the health basics – two litres of water a day, 10,000 steps a day and six to eight hours of quality sleep is a must through these uncertain times.
You can also create routines for staff that help employees strive.
“Allow more flexible work from home policies, look at moving the goalposts on KPIs and take care of them mentally and emotionally.
“Doing good for others in these ways makes you feel good about yourself,” said Lyon.
MYOB has partnered with Smiling Mind to help businesses owners get started on their own mindfulness journey. Step 1: download the Smiling Mind app, which now includes a unique Small Business Program.