The ROI of Happiness: The Commercial Case for Employee Wellbeing 

Before we start to unravel the world of happiness and the impact that it has on engagement, productivity and culture, let’s first think about the ROI aspect. Oliver Henry, co-founder of WorkLifeWell offers workplace wellbeing advise 

Yes, it’s understandable that businesses need to prove a return on investment for pretty much everything – at the end of the day a business needs to make more than it spends, right? That said, when it comes to measuring the financial impact of wellbeing initiatives and people's emotional states, the line becomes blurry. Instead, business leaders need to focus on the long-term value of investment (LTVI).  

There needs to be a shift in thinking, from wellbeing as a tick-box exercise that needs to show some kind of financial return, to the human lens. We need to look after the people of the business as the most valuable asset without the worry of financial gain. In the long run, the happier our staff are, the more that they like the working environment and the safer and more stable they feel at work, the more likely they are to stay, be productive and help the business grow.

Being accountants by trade and helping clients with their income and expenditure, accountancy firms are understandably often focused on the bottom line and the financial return on investment (ROI) of all business decisions. Yes there are a number of progressive firms in the industry leading the way with employee health and wellbeing, however many are still falling behind, perhaps because the focus is still on the financials.  

Let’s think back to the long-term value of investment. Studies have shown that happier employees lead to increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and improved customer satisfaction, all of which can have a significant impact on a company's bottom line. 

That said, we mustn't forget that behavioural and cultural change takes time and consistency – it won’t happen after one workshop on sleep or exercise. If you try to measure the difference in absenteeism or retention month on month that might demotivate the energy that you are putting into health and wellbeing. Take a longer-term view on the data/metrics and perhaps revisit year on year. 

So, how can a company invest in employee wellbeing to maximise impact and of course, later down the line improve ROI?  

  1. Make sure you fully understand the wellbeing landscape of the firm/business 

    Ask your colleagues what their biggest wellbeing challenge is and how you can help them overcome it. Why implement a strategy based on assumption? The more you ask, the deeper you dive, the easier it will be to find a solution that works. 

  2. Role modelling the behaviour from the top down is vital 

    Make sure senior leaders aren't just investing financially in well-being but are also investing physically and emotionally and are fully engaged in the process. They need to demonstrate that they trust their team and give them the autonomy to manage their work/life - foster a culture of output over input. 

  3. Be flexible with working environments and policies 

    It’s important to give colleagues the ability to decide when to come in/out of the office - it’s a huge way of showing trust.  

  4. Make sure you are providing a positive work environment  

    This might be through training on communication and emotional intelligence, or simply having policies like permission to pause; taking some time out in the working day for you without feeling guilty.  

  5. Encourage employee engagement  

    This can include regular team-building activities or opportunities for employees to provide feedback and have their voices heard. 

  6. Offer health and wellness benefits  

    This can include things like an on-site gym, yoga classes or access to a company-wide health and wellness programme - but remember this only has value if all the above are in place first.

It's also important to note that investing in employee wellbeing is not a one-time expense. It requires ongoing effort and commitment from management and employees alike. Regularly assessing and updating employee wellbeing initiatives can ensure that they remain effective over time. 

Main image: Oliver Henry, co-founder WorkLifeWell

The rise of the connected generations 

Intellius’s research suggests that millennials and Gen Z consumers will hold the largest share of disposable income for the coming decade. This target demographic expects to see their financial providers not just as money repositories but also as friendly advisors who can assist them in meeting their financial objectives. Beyond millennials and Gen Z, FinTech adoption has risen around the world: 

  • 64% global consumer adoption 

  • 96% consumer awareness of at least one transfer and payment FinTech service 

  • 75% consumer use of a transfer and payment FinTech service 

  • 50% consumer use of an insurance FinTech service 

That’s why companies are putting customer experience (CX) at the heart of their business. But, maybe you have heard this claim before – after all CX has been a hot topic for years. True, however, despite the significant progress made in creating easy, intuitive ways to manage money, from opening an account to planning for retirement, the challenge now is for FinTech companies to translate that fine-tuned CX from single-purpose to multi-purpose financial instruments.