The Case for Corporate Well-being

85% of UK staff believe their employer has a duty to look after their health and well-being (1).

Aside from meeting expectations, why should employers care?

This article outlines the 6 key sales and cost drivers which mean Corporate Well-being Programme’s (CWPs) make complete business sense.


The Expectation

63% of employees say their work life has a negative impact on their health and well-being. 85% expect their employer to do something about it (1).

No wonder then, organisations increasingly view employee well-being as a driver of business success (2). 94% of the most admired companies in the world believe engaging their employees creates a competitive advantage (3).

Well-being budgets have been growing. 39% of large companies and 28% of small companies reported well-being budget increases in 2016 (4).


The Return on Investment

Research supports the effectiveness of CWPs. (5,6). Estimates of overall return vary but are consistently high, ranging from 200% to 3,400% (7).

Reviewing all of the research we believe CWPs increase profits via:


A. Increased Sales

  1. Higher productivity
  2. Stronger team
  3. Attracting talent


B. Lower Costs

  1. Lower absenteeism
  2. Lower presenteeism
  3. Retaining talent


The overall Return on Investment (ROI) is the difference between the cost of the CWP and the overall impact on profit:

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A. Increased Sales


1. Higher Productivity

Much research has focused on measuring cost savings, but recent findings suggests productivity gains may be even bigger.

It is estimated that employee disengagement costs the UK £340bn every year (8). The cost of lowered productivity for the most supportive companies in the Britain’s Healthiest Workplace study measured 5.9% of payroll, 5% lower than those with the least supportive cultures and programmes (9).

Only 15% of UK workers consider themselves ‘highly motivated’, with as many as a quarter (24%) admitting to ‘coasting’ and a further tenth (8%) being ‘completely demotivated'. Just 21% of British workers consider themselves ‘very effective’ in their current job role (3).

Well-being offers a route to fixing the problem.

60% of UK employees admit that if they felt happy at work, they would be more productive, and 55% would feel more focused (1). 51% of employees feel CWPs encourage them to be more productive at work (6). Physical exercise can also positively impact self-esteem, mood, depression and anxiety (10). Getting employees more physically active can create a healthier workforce and increase employee productivity (11).

Overall, employees who participate in wellness CWPs are more productive, giving back 10.3 hours per employee each year (6). Results from another recent case-study suggested an average productivity rise of 4.80% due to the introduction of a CWP –approximately equal to an extra employee workday per month, delivering a ROI of 528% — 70-100% greater than the ROI of the fall in absenteeism and insurance costs (12).



B. Stronger Team

35% of UK employees report having no strong relationships at work

CWPs can improve employee relations and morale (13). Research shows that employees with strong social connections at work have higher job satisfaction, improved productivity plus greater commitment to their co-workers and companies (14, 15). employees are lonelier than ever. As people spend almost of a quarter of their lives at work, job isolation can have serious, and very negative, implications.

More generally, social connections lead to increased trust and higher quality and quantity of work. The effect is so powerful that one review of wellbeing in the workplace concluded that friendships at work are “vital and a key differentiator between successful work groups and less successful work groups" (16, 17).

Add on top of that a strong moral case to take action. The probability of dying early is:

  • 20% higher for obese people
  • 30% higher for excessive drinkers
  • 50% higher for smokers
  • 70% higher for people with poor social relationships

Not only does bringing the team together make business sense, it will help them live longer (29).



C. Attracting Talent

CWPs can bring a competitive edge during recruitment (13). Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse, says: “well-being programs are a core part of business strategy for engaging, retaining, and recruiting top talent”.

52% of employees would choose a company that cared about their well-being over a company that pays 10% more (18). Engaged employees with high well-being are 35% more attached to their organisation than those with lower well-being (19).



2. Lower Costs


A. Lower Absenteeism 

Each year 140 million working days are lost to sickness absence in the UK - 4.3 days on average per employee (7). 

Absenteeism and presenteeism cost the UK £57 billion per year, equivalent to almost 8% of payroll (9). It is estimated that mental health alone costs £1,205 - £1,560 per employee per year (20).


43% of employees say wellness programs lead them to miss fewer days (6). The research agrees, with a meta-analysis from 2012 finding that participants in workplace health promotion programs had about 25% lower medical and absenteeism expenditures than non-participants (21, 22).

In terms of days off sick, employees who get at least 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week miss on average 4.1 fewer days of work per year (23). 


B. Lower Presenteeism

Attending work whilst unwell costs employers an average of £605 per employee per year, due to reduced productivity.

Evidence shows a ratio of 1:2.5 for the cost of absenteeism to presenteeism. Therefore, for every £1 cost to business of absenteeism, there is estimated to be an additional cost of £2.50 due to presenteeism (7).



C. Retaining Talent

Recent Perkbox research found that 36% of the UK workforce are likely to leave their jobs within one year – a worrying statistic when considering it costs on average more than £30,000 to turnover one member of staff (24). Another study estimated the cost to be anything from 100-300% of salary (25).

Firms with engaged employees enjoy 87% less turnover (26). CWPs help retain talent. Virgin Pulse's HRA Data shows that people who are stressed at work are 26% more likely to leave.

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You can estimate how much your business could save using the BHF cost calculator here.


Overall ROI

Research shows that employers who invest in appropriate and successful workplace health initiatives consistently return in the region of 300% to 600% in year one alone (27, 28). Overall, they have the potential to see a ROI of between £2 and £34 for every £1 spent (7).

Compare £100 per employee to what you spend on other business investments (e.g. development and advertising). The business case for investing in a CWP is compelling.

The question is no longer 'can you afford a CWP?' but rather 'how much are you willing to invest in your people'? 


If you would like to find out more about our bespoke Well-being Programmes please get in touch.


1. Bupa. 2015. Available here 

2. Virgin Pulse, 2010. Available here

3. Hay Group, 2010. Available here

4. Virgin Pulse, 2016. Available here

5. Parks and Steelman, 2008. Available here

6. October 2013, ACOEM's Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Available here

7. British Heart Foundation 2018. Available here and ONS 2017 available here

8.  Hay Group, 2017. Available here

9. Vitality Healthiest Workplace Report, 2017. Available here

10. 2013 Mental Health Foundation “Let’s Get Physical” Available here

11. Centre for Disease & Prevention, 2011-15. Available here

12. Gubler et al, 2016. Available here

13. Perkobox, 2018. Available here

14. Norrish et al, 2013. Available here

15. Cohen et al, 2015. Available here

16. Tantardini & Kroll. Available here

17. Harter et al, 2015. Available here

18. Reward Gateway, 2017. Available here

19. Engage for Success, 2013. Available here

20. Thrive at Work, 2017. Available here

21. Goetzel et al. Available here

22. Chapman et al, 2012. Available here

23. Wang et al, 2004. Available here

24. Oxford Economics and Unum, 2014. Available here

25. Boushey & Glynn Progress, 2012. Available here

26. Swetha & Kumar, 2010. Available here

27. Sheffield Hallam University, 2013. Available here

28 Baicker et al, 2010. Available here

29 Pressman. Available here