An evidence-based approach to health

The workplace is a complex nervous system of health risks. At any one time, a working population will include employees who are well but whose behaviours expose them to the risk of serious health issues, as well as employees who are absent from work and dealing with temporary or long-term health conditions.

  • A wellbeing strategy is no longer a nice to have – ill health and absenteeism in the UK equals 8% of payroll costs.
  • Employers face a ticking time bomb of health issues connected to unhealthy behaviours and the set-up of the modern workplace.
  • Strategies built on data and insights can help your people and your business to thrive. HEALTH + ENGAGEMENT = PRODUCTIVITY

Most healthcare provision focuses on the latter group — ill and long-term disabled employees — and most organisations spend the bulk of their healthcare budget on treating the relatively small group of ill employees and invest little in the health of the majority employee population who are well but have health risks.[1]

Ignoring at-risk employees represents a very significant business risk for employers, and is often down to a lack of knowledge about the health needs of an organisation’s general employee population. All too often we see excellent employee health benefits and initiatives administered by different departments who do not cross-reference their findings and integrate their programmes. Valuable information falls between the cracks and employers are unable to understand and manage the cost drivers of their health benefits and then target them more effectively.

Building a health management dashboard can provide employers with a comprehensive picture of workforce health trends and how they are impacting employee absences and health claims. A dashboard pulls in data from different sources and tracks key metrics over time, including:

  • Health apps and trackers.
  • Health insurances.
  • Sickness absence.
  • Long-term disability.
  • Occupational health.
  • Health risk assessments.
  • Employee assistance programmes.
  • Employee surveys.

The output is a brief yet thorough overview of the employee population’s health status and the associated costs. Analysis of the data will help clarify the link between employee health and productivity, and identify the top health issues in the employee population, broken down by demographics, function, and location.

With these invaluable, evidence-based insights, employers have a foundation to plan targeted initiatives that address their major health challenges. Organisations are in a stronger position to propose ways of reducing claims costs, for example, through relevant health pathways to deal with their top health problems, such as psychological conditions and musculoskeletal diseases. Management teams are able to project ROI figures based on the indicative cost of implementing the initiatives and the associated reduction in health costs based on clinical research, case studies, and the tracking of company data, including benchmarking data.

What’s more, the dashboard approach will enable organisations to track what is and isn’t working, allowing teams to monitor the effectiveness of pathways and determine ROI more accurately, building a business case for health founded on the specific needs of their workforce.

Mercer can help employers take an integrated approach to improving health and wellbeing in the workplace. Email us for further information and advice on

[1] Britain’s Healthiest Company research (Reilly Associates WPAI methodology).

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