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If you’re looking to get a new or improved workplace health program over the line, you need a strong business case.

There are so many studies proving that a workplace wellness program can improve productivity, that it can be difficult to know where to start.

So here’s a handy rundown of the some of the most conclusive stats about the benefits of employee health:

 The problem

Absenteeism: Unhealthy workers take nine more sick days per year than healthy workers [1].

Presenteeism: On average, 6.5 working days of productivity are lost per employee annually as a result of presenteeism [2].

Injury costs: Organisations involved in health and wellbeing programs report a 50% reduction in injury rates and claims [3].

Overall productivity: Healthy workers are almost three times more productive than unhealthy workers, with the healthiest employees working approximately 143 effective hours per month compared to 49 effective hours per month by the least healthy[4].

Chronic disease (diseases caused by lifestyles factors including diabetes, heart disease and obesity) is the prime cause of lost work time in the working-age population [5].

In Australia, 96 per cent of working age Australians have at least one chronic disease risk factor and 72 per cent have multiple risk factors [6].

The solution

Workplace interventions using a systems or comprehensive approach are effective in preventing and controlling job stress at an organisational level [7].

There is strong evidence that multi-component interventions addressing physical activity and/or nutrition are effective in increasing physical activity levels, promoting healthy eating and preventing obesity [8].

In a recent large meta-evaluation, workplace health programs resulted in an average of:

25.3% decrease in sick leave absenteeism

40.7% decrease in workers compensation costs

24.2% decrease in disability management costs

$5.81 saving for every $1 invested in employee wellbeing [9].

Global research has found that when employee health and wellness is managed well the number of engaged employees increases from 7% to 55%.This research also found self-reported creativity and innovation increases from 20% to 72% [10].


[1] Medibank Private (2005). The Health of Australia’s Workforce. Medibank Private, Australia. Viewed at
[2] Medibank (2011) Sick at Work The cost of presenteeism to your business and the economy.Viewed at
[3] PricewaterhouseCoopers (2008). Building the case for wellness. PWC, United Kingdom
[4] Medibank Private (2005). as above.
[5] World Economic Forum 2008, Working Towards Wellness: The Business Rationale, 1 July 2011,
[6] AIHW 2010 Risk Factors and Participation in Work report
[7] LaMontagne, A.D and Keegel, T.G 2010, What organisational/employer level interventions are effective for preventing and treating occupational stress? A Rapid Review for the Institute for Safety, Compensation & Recovery Research, 29 July 2011,
[8] Chau, J 2009, Evidence module: Workplace physical activity and nutrition interventions, Physical Activity Nutrition and Obesity Research Group, University of Sydney, 16 June 2011,  [9] Chapman, L.S 2007, Proof Positive. An Analysis of the Cost Effectiveness of Worksite Wellness, Seattle: Chapman Institute, cited in HAPIA, Best-Practice Guidelines: Workplace Health in Australia.
 [10] Right Management 2009, Wellness and Productivity Management: A New Approach to Increasing Performance ,

Author Healthworks

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