It makes sense, right? If you love your work, love your job, you’re going to be happier. You don’t need surveys, statistics or psychologists to figure that one out. But what really makes employees happy and more engaged with their work?

The answer may not be simple, but certainly, two things make a difference: individual good health and employers serious about employee health.

Unhealthy employees cost companies money in a myriad of ways, ranging from the merely unmotivated employee to the seriously ill. Many companies don’t realize that they leave piles of money on the table when they neglect their number one resource–health.

Who are the disengaged employees?

Workers who are not emotionally engaged with their work and workplace are categorized by Gallup in a poll comparing the health of disengaged and unemployed workers, as “actively disengaged.” These disconnected workers are far less likely than engaged employees to report favourable health and well being. In fact, these workers compare similarly to the unemployed population having higher chronic diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes and depression.

On the other hand, engaged workers, those who do feel emotionally connected to their jobs, report healthy lifestyles; fitness and healthy eating habits are a priority to these workers. As a result of good health, these engaged employees are better team players and more productive.

happy man

What can employers do?

According to Gallup, making employees feel part of a team, cared for and connected, is critical. Offering company wellness programs within a vibrant culture of thriving well being can greatly enhance that connection.

Leaders in a healthy company culture understand the individual’s need for work-life balance and safety. Leading healthy and socially responsible companies vigilantly safeguard employee welfare by maintaining high well-being standards.

And it pays off. Employees who believe their employer cares about their health–offering comprehensive wellness programs–feel more engaged and invested in their company. In turn, healthier employees produce more for their companies. It’s a win-win.

What do healthy employees add to the company’s bottom line?

Money. Productivity. Positivity. Image.

Recent studies have found that healthy employees reduce company tangible and intangible costs in all of the following ways:

    1. Accidents – healthier employees are more focused and aware. Being actually present in mind as well as body greatly reduces the job performance risk of injury due to inattentiveness.
    2. Work-related illnesses – better fitness decreases stress, increases strength and boosts immunity in most employees, lessening the chances of stress and communicable illnesses at the workplace.
    3. Sick pay – healthier employees get sick less often and save companies money lost to sick pay and lessened productivity.
    4. Insurance costs – because they get sick less often, fit, informed employees often qualify for lower health insurance rates, substantial annual savings to employees and companies alike.
    5. Stress on other employees picking up the slack – the ripple effect of frequent absences of unhealthy employees adds pressure to those who work doubly to cover.
    6. Low morale – greater employee population health improves staff morale all around.
    7. Absenteeism –  healthier employees get sick less often. Absenteeism is reduced by 27% for those exercising and eating healthy regularly
    8. Workers compensation claims – overweight employees file twice as many worker’s compensation claims and cost companies around $73.1 billion a year.
    9. Turnover – happy employees stay longer at the job and are less likely to seek other employment, reducing recruitment costs and productivity losses in re-training.
    10. Stress – healthy lifestyles include more awareness of and need for work-life balance, mental health breaks and healthy fueling for energy, all leading to lowered stress.

Healthy employees improve company health and culture in all of the following ways:

  • Productivity, energy, engagement and morale – fitness improves employee population energy, attitude, focus, presentism, engagement and productivity.
  • Self-confidence – personal fitness leads to improved self-confidence
  • Leadership – confident employees are more willing to take on leadership roles.
  • Goal achievement and sense of accomplishment – improved productivity, energy, attitude, and self-confidence results in the higher likelihood of goal achievement.
  • Team building opportunities and cooperation – the greater number of fit employees in the company increase the likelihood of team building opportunities in work team projects.
  • Fun – employees who participate in wellness activities at work and in the community, like charity races and competitions, have fun.
  • Happiness – healthy employees are happier.
  • Community sense – building teams is not limited to the workplace. Community charity runs and softball leagues bring healthy cooperation and competition to the community.
  • Positive company image – employees who are happy and healthy exhibit that vibrancy into the community and promote a positive company image of caring and social responsibility.

Employees want to be healthy and happy

According to a survey of 361 companies and 3,822 employees, Virgin Pulse and Workforce magazine found nearly 90% of employees consider health and wellness paramount; employees want to be healthy–physically and mentally. And employees are happier at a company that promotes a healthy work culture.

How do employees measure healthy work culture? The survey revealed that employees’ top three items on their “want more of” wish list for their company’s wellness programs include: fitness programs, healthier on-site food choices, and access to a gym and/or fitness classes.

And despite the failure of surveyed companies to adequately track and measure improved engagement and productivity, 88% of surveyed employees claim access to wellness programs weigh heavily in the decision to join and remain at a company.

The tangible and intangible benefits of healthy employees

Overall, healthy employees not only contribute to the health of a company’s bottom line–productivity, culture and savings (lowered healthcare, absenteeism and turnover costs)–but also to the larger society. The dividends in a healthy population payoff are immeasurable.