Unhealthy employees now cost British firms six working weeks a year in lost productivity

  • Research from the 2017 Britain’s Healthiest Workplace survey (BHW) has revealed that employees lose, on average, the equivalent of 30.4* days of productive time each year as they take time off sick and underperform in the office as a result of ill-health (otherwise known as presenteeism)
  • This is equivalent to each worker losing six working weeks of productive time annually
  • Productivity loss due to physical and mental health issues is costing the UK economy an estimated £77.5** billion a year
  • Worryingly, employee work impairment and the associated productivity loss appears to be on a worsening trend, up from 27.5 days and £73 billion respectively in 2016


Shaun Subel, Director of Corporate Wellbeing Strategy at VitalityHealth, said: “The Britain’s Healthiest Workplace results illustrate the significance of the productivity challenge facing the UK, but importantly also point to an exciting alternative in how employers can approach this problem.

“For too long, the link between employee lifestyle choices, their physical and mental health, and their work performance has been ignored. Our data demonstrates a clear relationship – employees who make healthier lifestyle choices benefit from an additional 25 days of productive time each year compared to the least healthy employees, and also exhibit higher levels of work engagement and lower levels of stress. As a result, effective workplace health and wellbeing solutions can deliver tangible improvements in employee engagement and productivity, and make a significant impact on an organisation’s bottom line.”


*Figure calculated using an average work impairment of 11.7% and an average working year of 260 days. Work impairment is calculated using the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment (WPAI) Scale across the 31,950 employee participants in Britain’s Healthiest Workplace 2017.

**Figure calculated using ONS statistics for the period July-September 2017, and making adjustment for part-time workers. £26,468 average wage; 32.324 million people in work (of which 8.439 part-time); 10.8% cost of lost productivity as a proportion of total wage bill (calculated from Britain’s Healthiest Workplace 2017).

***The Britain’s Healthiest Workplace research process took place between February and August 2017. It looked at a number of lifestyle, mental wellbeing, clinical risk and productivity factors amongst 31,950 employees, together with a broad view of leadership and cultural dimensions and organisational policies, practices and facilities that could directly impact on employee health, across 167 companies. Results based on UK workforce as reported by each company surveyed.

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