Small businesses can save up to $100k over a five years by creating healthy workforce


Small business workers often come under pressure due to longer business hours and elevated workloads which can see many employees facing associated mental and emotional demands rather than simply physical demands within the workplace. Work spilling over into family life, common in family enterprises, can also adversely impact worker’s health.

New research, commissioned by NSW Government initiative ‘Get Healthy at Work’, has revealed the price small businesses are paying as a result of having an unhealthy, stressed workforce.

Released today, the Get Healthy at Work research outlines the impact unhealthy workers is having on the performance and profits of small business, as stress and poor health take a toll through reported sick days and higher absenteeism.

Researchers surveyed small business owners across the country in an effort to assess the overall health of staff in Australian small businesses to quantify the impact an unhealthy workplace culture may have on their bottom lines.

Results reveal small businesses that have unhealthy staff are two and a half times more likely to experience high rates of absenteeism, compared to workplaces on the other end of the scale that reported having healthy staff.

In addition to the strain felt by co-workers who are left to pick up the extra workload when their colleagues take sick days, high rates of absenteeism could also be costing small businesses up to $50,000 more to run over five years, than businesses with low rates of absenteeism.

With small businesses making up around 40 percent of NSW’s business community, the study exposes the impact that an unhealthy workforce could be having on business owners.

Shark Tank panellist, RedBalloon founder and successful entrepreneur, Naomi Simson said,“I know what it’s like to be a small business owner. It’s typical to work very long hours and juggle a variety of roles and responsibilities. As a result, activities that don’t drive a profit can come second to driving the business but the findings, from the research by Get Healthy at Work, demonstrate the financial imperative to implement healthy workplaces. Simply put, if you are not looking after yours and your team’s well-being how can they best serve the customer?”

High levels of absenteeism are also having a knock-on effect on workplace pressures, with an increasing workload making staff feel stressed and overwhelmed.

An astonishing 64 percent of businesses that are experiencing high levels of absenteeism indicate that staff are stressed and unable to cope with the strains of their jobs.

The cost associated with absenteeism caused by stressed staff can amount to an additional $16,000 in running costs, over five years. Implementing formal processes and programs to address health risk factors facing staff, could lead to a reduction in absenteeism levels and in turn, workplace stress.

Having a physically active a workforce has been shown to have a large bearing on the absenteeism rates a business is experiencing.

According to the study, businesses with inactive staff are three times more likely to experience high rates of absenteeism, resulting in additional business costs of $34,000, over five years, compared to those businesses that have active staff.

The research reveals that businesses with inactive staff are 35 percent less likely to take breaks from their desks. It also highlights the risk of a sedentary workforce – with workers who spend most of their time sitting twice as likely to be considered overweight.

“Get Healthy at Work offers all the tools, resources and support a business needs to implement an effective workplace health program, including confidential brief health checks for staff. Businesses can access support from a network of accredited workplace health service providers across NSW, all at no cost,” said a Get Healthy at Work spokesperson.

Effective workplace health programs deliver an overall broad range of business benefits including; increased productivity, staff retention, improved morale and greater employee engagement and have been shown to provide a return of between $3-$6 for every $1 invested.

The Get Healthy at Work initiative has created a great online tool for businesses who can plug in details about their workplaces to see how much they can save by addressing key health issues in the workplace.


Image sourced: Kaiser Permanente