A healthy workforce is a productive workforce. In the USA, some 80 percent of companies have employee wellness plans and an incredible 92 percent of businesses with over 200 employees have such programs. This is sensible: return on investment (ROI) on wellness programmes is about 3:1 because of reductions in absenteeism, staff turnover and stress reduction.
For example, Johnson & Johnson’s wellness and prevention programs implemented over three decades ago have resulted in tangibly better productivity, employee health outcomes and savings of millions of dollars. With these kinds of numbers, the verdict is in: good health is good for business.
Traditionally, businesses in Vietnam haven’t paid much attention to employee health, but the shifting economic landscape is likely to change this. As Vietnam’s businesses start to engage in increasingly high value-added activities, the reliance on low-cost, unskilled labour shifts to a more skilled and productive workforce.
It is more disruptive and expensive when highly skilled employees leave or are out of commission: satisfaction, retention and health go hand in hand.
Types of Wellness Programs
What exactly does an employee wellness program entail? Anything you want, really, as long as it results in healthier employees. One of the major misconceptions about wellness programs, and perhaps one of the reasons they haven’t been widely adopted in Vietnam, is that they’re expensive to maintain and take up valuable working time. In reality, every company can create its own programme, investing as much time and money as they see fit.
Do you employ a lot of smokers (48 percent of Vietnamese men smoke)? Then provide information about quitting and offer cessation courses. Do your workers spend their lunch break at McDonald’s or go for other unhealthy, greasy street food? Encourage them to try healthier alternatives. Access to exercise and fitness outlets or at least information is also important.
Anything helps, as long as the employer encourages healthier habits for their workers. Investing in an employee’s health today will reduce health insurance payments and other costs down the line.
Protect Your Valuable Assets
At the moment, Vietnam’s government mandates that companies must have yearly health check-ups. Typically, that is the limit of HR concern for employee health, although lack of attention leads to less-than-optimal workplace productivity. So, it falls to C-level and senior leadership to examine and exploit the link between employee wellness and productivity.
Each company must carefully weigh the costs and benefits of a workforce that is more productive, has less absenteeism, feels cared for and thus stays loyal (something that may help the high rate of turnover that plagues many companies).
If our workers are not commodities but a valuable asset for our success, they must be cared for. And nothing is more basic than safety and health.