The wellness in work report has focussed on the economic arguments relevant to 1. A diverse and inclusive workforce in Wales; 2. Valuing employees and keeping healthy for a cost-effective workforce; 3. Worklessness and returning to work. Although the unemployment rate is currently low, there are other reasons for reduced productivity such as absenteeism and presenteeism affecting Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Wales.
A rapid review of worldwide literature has shown that there are employer initiatives that can be cost-effective in terms of reducing the amount of productivity days lost due to sickness or disability, mainly relating to management of musculoskeletal conditions and common mental health problems. Staff wellbeing is an important factor in workplace productivity. Common mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and unmanageable stress affect one in six employees in Wales each year. Across the UK, Wales has the highest rate of sickness absence at 2.7% which is 0.8% higher than the UK average of 1.9%. Dealing with preventable health issues, unhealthy behaviours, and reducing the risk of injuries may decrease premature mortality and keep many working people at work for longer.
Mitigating risk factors such as mental health problems, health-harming lifestyle choices, addiction, and stress can improve health and result in substantial savings over short-term and long-term horizons to the NHS, Welsh Government and employers in Wales. It is important to evaluate interventions in terms of health outcomes and economic outcomes in order to improve the productivity of the workforce in Wales.