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Unum research: Health, happiness and productivity

This research report from WPI Economics, commissioned by Unum, provides evidence on the connection between employee health, happiness and productivity – and the potential economic benefits

This is the second report from WPI Economics commissioned by Unum. Building on the first, which makes the case for significant reform of Statutory Sick Pay, this report provides compelling evidence on the links between employee health, happiness and workplace productivity – and the potential economic benefits of increasing workplace happiness and health.

Key findings

  • Health and happiness at work reduces sickness absence and presenteeism. Compared to employees who report to be unhappy, those who are happy at work need to take, on average, nine fewer sick days per year. Compared to employees who say they aren’t happy, workers who are happy at work also report 5.5 fewer days of presenteeism a year (where they turn up for work when they are ill and unable to perform their job effectively).
  • Health and happiness at work are key drivers of productivity. Eight in 10 employees (80%) say that they are more productive at work when they are feeling healthy and happy. It is therefore no surprise that, compared to those who are not happy at work, employees who are happy at work are nearly three times as likely to rate their performance as being very productive (37% versus 13%).
  • Physical and mental wellbeing is key to employees’ happiness. Employees with good physical and mental wellbeing (87%) are nearly 2.5 times more likely to be happy at work than those with poor physical and mental health (38%).

Overall, this means that companies which invest in employees’ health and wellbeing could see significant benefits in terms of reduced sickness absence and increased productivity and output.

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