Why Run A Wellness Program

Physical & psychological health

In the 2014-15 National Health Survey, 11 million Australians had at least one selected chronic condition1. With our national healthcare expenditure expected to increase substantially over the next 15 years2, it is more important than ever to use the workplace to facilitate healthy lifestyles.

It's not all bad news though, in organisations where workplace health is managed well, financial performance increased by more than 2.5 times3.

So how do you know if your workplace health is being managed well? This is where it's crucial to get an anonymous snapshot of your team's health and wellness.

Presenteeism & absenteeism

Joe Queenan describes presenteeism in a light-hearted, but apt manner as: “A situation that arises when sick employees drag their forlorn carcasses into the office and waste everyone else’s time by hacking their way through their working day on an empty tank”.

A recent survey4 of 2000 employees revealed on average they had 4 sick days per year, but more than 10 times the productivity was lost to presenteeism. Whilst they hadn't planned to arrive at work to do nothing, their health was preventing them from giving their all. The projected cost to Australian, UK and US businesses is in the trillions...

The table below attributes the reduction in productivity from various health conditions, highlighting the need for tailored workplace health interventions5.

Modifiable risk factor Presenteeism Absenteeism Total
Diabetes (type 2) 18% 5% 23%
Depression 14% 3% 17%
Alcohol abuse 5% 5% 10%
Overweight/obesity 9% 1% 10%
High cholesterol 5% 3% 8%
Tobacco use 5% 3% 8%
Chronic stress 4% 3% 7%
Asthma 1% 5% 6%
Migraine 2% 4% 6%
Physical inactivity 5% 0% 5%

Retain and attract talent

Organisations that don’t promote health and wellness are four times more likely to lose talent in the next 12 months3. The staff turnover costs for workers earning, on average, $75,000 per year or less, ranges between 10-30% of their annual salary6.

The costs associated with staff turnover include:

  • The loss of productivity when an employee leaves
  • The cost of training a new employee
  • Reduced productivity while the new employee is learning the job


  1. AIHW 2016. Australia's health 2016. Australia's health no. 15. Cat. no. AUS 201. Canberra: AIHW.
  2. Goss J 2008. Projection of Australian health care expenditure by disease, 2003 to 2033. Health and welfare expenditure series no. 36. Cat. no. HWE 43. Canberra: AIHW.
  3. Right Management 2009, Wellness and productivity management.
  4. Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, 2012, PwC, 2013, Absence Management Survey by Direct Health Solutions, 2014. Based on respondents to the WHO-HPQ (conducted by Virgin Pulse Global Challenge in 2015).
  5. Goetzell et al. 2004, Health, absence, disability, and presenteeism cost estimates of certain physical and mental health conditions affecting U.S. employers’, Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, vol. 46, pp. 398-412.
  6. Boushey & Glynn 2012, There are significant business costs to replacing employees, Center for American Progress.