“Companies should embrace the vision underlying corporate health – that a firm’s health is inextricably linked to the health of its employees,” the authors write. “Under this approach, it becomes apparent that employee health is not so much a cost for a firm as a potential competitive advantage.”
While a direct cause and effect between a healthy workforce and superior share price returns is difficult to establish, there is growing evidence that the two are in some way correlated, according to the paper. It could be that improved employee health lifted the performance of companies, or that better-performing companies simply tend to have higher-caliber employee health programs.
Whatever the case, companies would do well to elevate the importance of health in the organization’s overall mission, and measure the enhancement of employee welfare the same way they would measure the improvement of operational performance, reputation and returns.
“Since ancient times, people have spoken of a ‘healthy mind in a healthy body,’” the authors write. “Today, companies should speak of a ‘healthy employee in a healthy firm.’ Corporate health is indivisible from the health of employees and their organizations as a whole. Companies around the world have a long way to go before they realize that approach’s full financial and non-financial benefits.”
Some key findings discussed within the paper include:
Stress costs U.S. employers $300 billion a year.
Employers who don’t participate in their workplace wellness program in some cases have had $1,500 higher healthcare costs than participants.
There is a strong correlation between the satisfaction levels of health and wellness resources and desired workplace outcomes such as engagement and commitment.
Emerging markets are home to almost half the global population but the combined value of their healthcare sectors is just $1.3 trillion -- less than half that of the U.S.
UBS also offers some solutions in the report, including identifying industry-specific health problems and implementing relevant long-term employee health programs; encouraging employees to use new technology to track and improve their health; positioning employee health programs correctly within a healthy, effective organizational culture; and embracing the vision underlying corporate health.
“All companies are capable of providing their employees with regular, relatable advice on the importance of health and additional options for managing it better,” the authors write. “For companies that embrace this principle and treat it as a competitive advantage, the fundamental vision underlying corporate health – that the health of a company is indivisible from the health of its workers – will go from being a challenge to a long-term opportunity.”
Some UBS’ initiatives that deploy a healthy culture include an increase in primary child care leave from 16 to 20 weeks in 2018; the Career Comeback program for experienced professionals who have taken a break in their career for two or more years to transition back into the corporate world; the “All Bar None Network” to engage, educate and empower employees to promote the professional advancement of women in the firm; and the New Parent Coaching Program, which helps new parents navigate parenthood while also ensuring a successful transition in and out of the workplace.