The Cost of Ignoring Employee Wellness


With most employees spending roughly a third of their lives at work, organizations should be proactive about ensuring that their workplaces are designed to foster overall wellbeing. Wellness, after all, is critical to facilitating productivity and competitiveness. When wellness is neglected, businesses are likely to see an uptick in sick days, disengagement, and turnover. Executives and organizations that take wellness for granted do so at their own risk.

What Exactly is Meant by Wellness?

We’ve come a long way in how we think about wellness and its value to our workplace communities. Wellness was once seen purely as a means to an end, and that end was lowering the cost of health insurance premiums. However, today’s wellness can’t be summed up only as an organization’s average blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI numbers. Instead, it requires a “whole person” approach, supporting overall wellbeing through an approach that takes into consideration the varied, interlocking dimensions of our lives. These include our physical health, mental and emotional wellbeing, and financial wellbeing. 

True wellness addresses all of these aspects and acknowledges how they interact with each other. Let’s take a look at two of the core dimensions of wellness and how businesses can address them.

Mental Wellness

One of the key aspects of wellness is mental and emotional health. Neglecting mental wellness has tremendous financial implications, with depression and anxiety reportedly costing the global economy an estimated $1 trillion each year in lost productivity. Environmental factors play a significant role in this, with workplaces that are overly fast-paced, that set unmanageable expectations, and that demand long hours of their employees all contributing to the problem.

However, organizations can take a number of steps to mitigate these issues and foster mental and emotional wellbeing among their employees. These include:

  • Work hours. Strictly enforce work hours and avoid evening and weekend work.
  • Foster belonging. Design the workplace so that employees can work in teams together.
  • Reasonable expectations. Set achievable deadlines and ensure that workloads are evenly shared.
  • Offer support. Incorporate support services run by trained individuals with a background in mental health. 
  • Encourage physical wellbeing. Physical fitness fosters emotional fitness, so promote healthy eating and regular exercise. 

Physical Wellness

Another critical dimension of overall wellbeing is physical wellness. While this has been the main focus of employee health and wellness programs in recent years, large strides remain to be made. Unfortunately, physical wellness is something that employees struggle with, with approximately 20% of any large group experiencing poor health or chronic illness. These individuals account for some 80% of insurance claims. 

Organizations can help improve overall physical wellness rates by taking steps, including:

  • Work hours. Strictly enforce work hours and avoid evening and weekend work.
  • Ergonomic workstations. Standing desks, ergonomic setups, and spaces that encourage movement can be beneficial for employees.
  • Organized wellness activities. Implement lunchtime yoga, on-site fitness facilities, gym memberships, and group fitness outings.
  • Wellness assessments. Bring physicians, personal trainers, or other experts on-site to undertake confidential wellness examinations, help employees gauge their physical fitness, and plan the next steps.
  • Nutrition counseling. Provide nutrition advice, along with access to healthy lunches and snacks.
  • Build a gym. If space and budgets allow, build a dedicated fitness facility with room for cardio, weights, and stretching.

Wellness Means Performance

Executives and organizations that fail to prioritize the wellbeing of their workforce risk losing their competitive edge. Low employee wellbeing leads to reduced corporate performance through absenteeism, low productivity, increased healthcare costs, and staff turnover. By proactively addressing the many dimensions of wellness, businesses can foster healthier, more productive workplaces and enjoy improved outcomes.

At Optimum Coworking, we take a holistic approach to workplace design. Our state-of-the-art flexible coworking spaces have been crafted to meet the dynamic, varied wellness needs of employees at all levels, fostering wellness, and productivity at every turn. For more information about our spaces, or to arrange a visit, please get in touch.