Employers can't afford to ignore employee wellbeing. Research consistently suggests that wellness initiatives positively impact employee productivity, morale and company performance. Workable describes employee wellbeing as 'the overall mental, physical, emotional, and economic health of employees'. \nAccording to the Benefits Pro website, formal corporate wellbeing programs only existed in the 1950s. They explain that in the US, the first Employee Assistance Programmes or EAPs emerged because it was noted that the mental health issues and alcoholism of World War Two veterans impacted productivity. In the 1970s, corporate wellness initiatives started becoming more popular, often including support for tobacco and alcohol addictions and nutrition and weight control. \nBut in his article, 'The evolution of workplace wellness', Rakesh Pal explains that one of the biggest challenges for workplace wellbeing is that it was traditionally more focused on aftercare than prevention. They'd support employees after burning out or developing a heart condition or addiction rather than averting these personal health crises before they take hold. \nMany workplace wellbeing initiatives now provide the framework for healthier mental and physical choices before a crisis emerges. Office design can also impact employee wellbeing. Bad lighting and layout, depressing décor, insufficient facilities, poor air quality, noise, etc., can affect employee happiness and productivity. Wellness initiatives often vary business-to-business. The Reward and Employee Benefits Association writes that ‘wellbeing is characterised by a set of disjointed benefits, services, apps, and ‘initiatives’; each communication separately, in a broadcast, one-size-fits-all way.’ \nMeasuring the success of a wellbeing initiative can take time, and justifying it to the person holding the company purse strings is, therefore, tricky. What’s more, results are rarely instantaneous. The British Heart Foundation says it can take 2-3 years for companies to see an ROI (unless an intervention is targeted and intense). This can make it more difficult to justify costs to managers or accounts. \nAll businesses must look at the issues affecting them specifically. For some, it may be absenteeism, presenteeism, burnout, high staff turnover, falling productivity, morale and engagement. Identifying these is vital for the success of any wellbeing initiative.\n \n\nBenefits of employee wellbeing and how this translates to an ROI for the business\nAccording to the British Heart Foundation, ill health costs the UK economy £29 billion each year, but this number can be reduced through workplace health initiatives. They break this down further by suggesting that an average London firm with 250 employees loses around £250,000 annually due to ill health.\nIt’s a lot of money, especially if the illness is work-related and preventable. \nThe report also detailed how in 82% of employee wellbeing programmes, staff turnover was reduced by 33% and accidents and injuries by 33%.\nThe report also looks more specifically at the ROI of employee wellbeing for specific companies. British Gas introduced ‘back care workshops’ for employees working in more physical areas of the business; this led to a 43% reduction in related absences, and for every £1 spent on the workshop, the company earned £34 back. One of the report’s conclusions suggests that the potential ROI for UK businesses investing in workplace health initiatives is £4.17 for every £1 spent.\nHarvard Business Review details how between 2002 and 2008, Johnson and Johnson invested $250 million into wellness initiatives supporting its employees' social, mental, and physical health. The company earned back $2.71 for every dollar spent. \nDaniel Goleman is a Harvard Psychologist who writes that for every 2% increase in employee happiness, there’s a revenue growth of 1%. \nThe Financial Times wrote about another large-scale study in which researchers found that companies with higher happiness levels enjoyed greater profitability and stock market performance. The study’s authors based their conclusion on responses from more than 5 million respondents asking people how they felt at work and why.\nHappier employees are more engaged with their work and are more productive too. Happiness was even noted as a factor in increasing the success of salespeople by 37%.\nAnd wellbeing doesn’t always mean spending a vast amount on an issue. Healthcare company BUPA reports that UK companies lose around £50 million a day in productivity because employees fail to take a lunch break. Surprising? 1 in 6 employees also report feeling guilty about leaving their desks.\nBupa also found that 48% of workers feel their productivity drops off significantly in the afternoon, and this was likely due to people relying on caffeine and sugary snacks to see them through the afternoon. Investing in a wellbeing initiative could help employees make better daily choices. This could be finding ways to encourage people to take a break from their workstations. Some companies have banned eating lunch at desks. Others have looked at the causes behind why people are working through their breaks. This could be a workload or management issue that should be looked into.\nIn the UK, employees have the right to an ‘uninterrupted 20-minute rest break during their working day’ when they work 6 hours or more. This should be an opportunity to refresh the mind and body, especially during busy work periods Workplace initiatives can include creating or decorating a relaxing, inviting and comfortable breakroom. It could be providing a kitchen so employees can cook or warm-up nutritious food while adding benches and tables for sitting and socialising. If there’s outdoor space, adding picnic areas can help encourage people to step away from their computers. \nEncouraging exercise during the day can help too. Exercise is an effective way to beat the afternoon slump. Adding an ECO:POD with electricity-generating indoor bikes could be helpful in these situations, boosting physical and mental health while reducing lost productivity in the afternoon. \nEmployee wellbeing doesn’t have to be related to physical and mental health. One LinkedIn study found that 94% of employees would stay longer with a company if it invested in their careers. Employee development is one way of improving employee happiness and engagement while providing a clear benefit to the company. Career and personal development can include continuing education, training programmes and workshops. It could be providing or paying for courses, mentorships, and secondments. \nOne study found that spending £1,500 or more on employee development saw a 24% higher annual profit than those companies spending less. \n \n\n \nAnyone with more than a few years of work experience will recognise how much harder it is to be a productive employee when you’re feeling unhappy, disengaged or stressed. Caring about an employee’s mental and physical health and working environment isn’t just a soft issue for ‘woke employers’, but it can boost company performance and provide an ROI that justifies the initiative.