7 mins. read

What is employee health and wellbeing and why is it important?

employee health and wellbeing in the workplace Perci Health

Key takeaways

  • Health and wellbeing are interlinked: The definition of health centres around an individual having a positive physical, mental and social existence. Wellbeing is defined as someone’s overall quality of life. These aspects co-exist and can influence one another.
  • More organisations are focusing on employee health and wellbeing: 70% of HR personnel said that employee health and wellbeing was a focus for senior leadership in 2022; up from 55% in 2018.
  • Promoting employee health and wellbeing is beneficial at an individual and company level: Investing in employee wellbeing can improve resilience, increase employee satisfaction and lead to better employee performance. It can also reduce presenteeism and leaveism, strengthen employee loyalty and enhance recruitment efforts.

There are many factors that contribute to health and wellbeing. In the workplace it can be more complex, because not only do you need to consider it in relation to individual employees, but also to business performance.The results of a 2022 survey by the CIPD revealed that 70% of businesses are focusing on employee health and wellbeing. It’s no wonder given that poor mental health alone costs UK businesses approximately £56 billion a year.

But what does employee health and wellbeing in the workplace mean, and why is it important? In this article, we explore what it entails and discuss some of the reasons why health and wellbeing should be a key component of your overall business strategy.

What is employee health and wellbeing?

Health and wellbeing encompass many aspects of a person’s life including psychological, physiological and social factors. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as ‘A state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’.

Wellbeing is closely linked to health and refers to a positive state of existence. It incorporates someone’s overall quality of life, as well as their sense of meaning and purpose within society and the world. Social, economic and environmental factors all influence wellbeing.

Why is employee health and wellbeing important?

In the last few years alone, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and cost-of-living crisis on employees has been significant. As a result, more employers are taking a closer look at the health and wellbeing of their employees. And as businesses address how to create an effective employee health and wellbeing strategy, the importance of employee health and wellbeing is being brought to the forefront. There are so many reasons to place value on employee health and wellbeing, at an individual, business and whole economy level. In this section, we discuss just five of them:

Contributes to mental health

In 2021/22 there were approximately 914,000 cases of work-related stress, depression and/or anxiety, contributing to more than half of all working days lost due to work-related ill health. Overall, poor mental health is the number one cause of work-related ill health, and it can have a significant impact on an employee’s work performance and their life outside the workplace.

That is why 76% of companies are now investing more in stress management and resilience resources for their team members. Such tools are highly beneficial as employees can use them within work situations as well as carry them into their personal lives to maintain consistent, positive mental health.

Increases diversity

Supporting employee health and wellbeing ensures that you cater to the unique needs of different individuals. Health benefits can play a big part in this. For example, private health coverage can allow older members of staff to stay in employment longer. In turn, this promotes a multi-generational workforce which encourages knowledge transfer, drives innovation and expands the staff skillset.

Boosts morale

Low morale is often an indicator of stress, health issues and social isolation, amongst other things. Workplace wellbeing can impact morale. For instance, if employees believe their employer or their colleagues don’t value them, if their working conditions are unsafe or if they feel they don’t receive fair compensation for their work, their overall motivation is likely to be lowered.

At the other end of the spectrum, employers can elevate morale by concentrating on employee health and wellbeing. Shifts in company culture can help achieve this, as can staff training, and senior managers leading by example. Employee benefits that promote health and wellbeing also make a difference.

Reduces presenteeism, leaveism and sickness absence

Employee health issues in the workplace have a significant effect on an individual’s quality of life. They also impact their productivity and performance, and a business’ profitability. 

2.6% of working hours were lost due to sickness or injury in 2022. Nearly 30% of sickness absence is due to minor illnesses but long-standing health conditions also contribute to the overall picture. For example, women with breast cancer take an average of six months off work. These lost hours affect business profits. 

Presenteeism costs the UK economy £1.5 billion every year. An estimated 80% of employees continue to work when unwell, citing not wanting to let their team down as one reason why. In addition, 67% of businesses report dealing with leaveism, where employees use their allocated time off to mask that they are unwell or to catch up on work.

Effective employee health and wellbeing strategies should not just reduce instances of sickness and injury but should also champion self-care when employees are unwell. 

Improves employee retention and recruitment

Prioritising employee health and wellbeing is one of the best ways to retain your current staff. A poor work-life balance and personal circumstances are among the top causes of employee turnover, both of which can have a negative impact on employee health and wellbeing. With the average cost of finding a new employee now at £7,729 in the UK, it makes sense to establish how to support employee wellbeing in the workplace as a way to address some of the key factors that contribute to employees leaving their current roles.

Focusing on employee health and wellbeing can also help to attract top talent to your organisation. Prospective candidates now look at more than just salary and will consider if a company’s values, diversity and culture align with their own beliefs.

If you want to be one of the UK’s top employers, and be at the forefront of employee health and wellbeing initiatives, Perci Health can help. We connect employees affected by cancer with leading specialists, giving them on-demand support when they need it most. Find out more by booking a demo with us. 


‘Health And Wellbeing At Work’, cipd.org, May 2023, https://www.cipd.org/globalassets/media/comms/news/ahealth-wellbeing-work-report-2022_tcm18-108440.pdf

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