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Workplace wellbeing can boost productivity

Workplace wellbeing can boost productivity

Adapting techniques from sports science and focusing on employee wellbeing can significantly improve productivity, according to research.

Speaking at the Amii Health and Wellbeing Summit in London today (23 November), Richard Holmes, managing partner at The Working Health Company - which puts wellness programmes in workplaces -  said evidence suggested employees could gain almost a day a week in terms of productivity through a focus on wellbeing.

Employee wellbeing is a key issue companies are striving to address to ensure that their employees remain happy and motivated at work. 

Mr Holmes said most employers focus on wellbeing because they believe it improves employee engagement, which in turn enhances business performance – but have no evidence to back up the belief.

But research by the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) in Sheffield has discovered a definitive link between wellbeing and productivity.

The AWRC was set up to build on the legacy of the London 2012 Olympics and is the most advanced research and development centre for physical activity in the world.

Mr Holmes said employee energy levels are a significant barrier to productivity, with 20 per cent of employees reporting they are tired most of the time.

But using the insights of ‘marginal gains’ – which helped to boost Team GB’s performance in the London 2012 and Rio Olympics by focusing on incremental improvements that add up to an overall large gain – can improve wellbeing and energy levels in the workplace.

Mr Holmes said a scheme known as the Business Athlete Energy Programme, a four-week programme focused on improving employee energy levels to boost productivity, achieved significant improvements, with 80 per cent reporting improved energy levels. 

The programme aims to take training principles applied to athletes and adapt them for the workplace. 

It resulted in an average productivity boost per employee of 20 minutes per day, rising to an hour a day for those seeing the biggest benefits. 

The insights could help to solve the UK’s productivity crisis, as well as improving employee engagement and cutting absences.

On Wednesday, the Office for Budget Responsibility downgraded its estimate of productivity growth by 0.6 per cent on average for the years to 2022.

It said productivity will remain significantly below its pre-crisis trend over the next five years, despite a minor pick-up.

According to the Office for National Statistics, UK productivity was 15.1 per cent below the average for the rest of the G7 group of advanced economies in 2016.

simon.allin@ft.com