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Why Companies with Healthier Employees Outperform their Peers

By Medisys on September 25 2018 | Mental Wellness, News

Canadian companies are increasingly investing in the health and well being of their workforce.  In fact, the larger the organization, the more likely they are to offer corporate wellness programming. The Society for Human Resource Management reported that in 2015 80% of employers offered some level of preventative health services and/or resources to their employees. With the aging population, increased demand from employees for employer-sponsored health and wellness programs, and the rise of chronic disease, the trend toward investing in employee health will continue to grow over time. 


Are unhealthy employees really that bad for your business? Consider the stats below:

  • Canadian employees with two or more lifestyle risk factors (eg. being sedentary, being overweight or obese, smoking, or high alcohol intake) are absent 50% more often than those without the risk factors, and cost their employers 2-3 times more in health benefit costs2.
  • A typical smoker costs their employer between $2,500/year and $4,000 more per year (on an annualized average basis)3 relative to employees that do not smoke. Click here to learn more.
  • Each year, employee absenteeism equates to an estimated $16 billion or more in direct lost revenue to Canadian employers5. Click here to learn more.
  • Employees returning to work after a significant illness are more than twice as likely to require ergonomic support6.
  • The total cost of obesity alone to Canadian employers is about $1.3 billion per year7.  
  • There is a linear relationship between obesity and number of workers’ compensation claims, lost workdays, medical claims costs, and indemnity claims costs8.
  • Overweight and obese employees spend 35% on health services and 77% more on medications than their healthy weight counterparts.
  • The cost of workplace stress to employers equates to about $600 per employee - 60% of workplace absenteeism is thought to be directly stress-related.
  • Employees that do not get sufficient sleep cost the Canadian economy about $21.4 billion (USD) per year due to reduced productivity. Click here to learn more.

To understand the return on investment of programs aimed at improving employee health, it’s important to analyze how exactly unhealthy employees impact their business’ bottom line. It is estimated that nearly half of employers in Canada don’t consistently track employee absenteeism nor do they track the specific causes of individual absentee instances. Also, because most employers focus only on absenteeism when analyzing wellness program ROI, and neglect to account for the indirect and longer term costs associated with poor employee health, there is a tendency to underestimate such costs. Time away from work is a large part of the wellness ROI equation – particularly when looking at near term and direct costs. However, the longer term impacts of poor employee health are often larger than employers realize.

“The cost of recruiting and training replacement workers and the cumulative negative impact that unhealthy employees have on productivity, workplace injury risk, and employee morale far exceed the costs of absenteeism” explains Dr. Mike Wahl, Senior Director of Wellness Strategy & Solutions at Medisys Corporate Health (Medisys).  Wahl believes that the key to optimizing the ROI of wellness programs is building programs around employee health data obtained through biometric screens. “The majority of companies that seek to implement wellness programs are not given the right guidance on the collection of employee health metrics to track impact” explains Wahl. “Most wellness providers merely recommend employee health interventions on a consultative basis; very rarely do they execute the interventions onsite and then accurately monitor employee health outcomes over time,” says Wahl.


Looking for easy-to-implement wellness solutions that help employees save time and improve productivity? Consider adding virtual care to your employee health benefit plan.

Most of us are well aware that early risk issue identification and early intervention improve health outcomes. Despite this, many Canadians admit to delaying or avoiding doctors visits for non-urgent health issues due to time constraints. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by IPSOS, 68% of Canadians surveyed reported having avoided or prolonged visiting a doctor when they were sick due to long wait times, the inability to book appointments outside of business hours, and similar barriers. 

Technology is changing the way Canadians manage their health. With new virtual care mobile app services like Medisys On-Demand, employees can connect instantly with doctors and nurse practitioners via secure text and video chat from the convenience of their home or office - whenever they need. Renew prescriptions, obtain specialist referrals, and have health questions answered instantly any time of the day or night.  Click here to learn more about year-round, on-demand, virtual healthcare support.



Your corporate health programs - whether virtual healthcare support, employee wellness programming and onsite fitness, or executive health benefits should deliver measurable returns that you can track. Some corporate health programs are built around boosting employee activity during the work day, whereas other programs are focused on mental heath and resiliency. Most companies offer different tiers of preventive health services to different levels of employees - annual health screenings for senior executives and biometric screening and yoga for their broader employee base, for example. “Biometric screening data is important because it enables physicians to identify the root cause of health issues that may be impacting an organization” says Dr. Vivien Brown, VP of Medical Affairs at Medisys.
“It’s important that wellness programs not only assist companies in better understanding their major risk factors, but also serve to address the root causes of these issues and then set clear and measurable objectives for employee health” adds Dr. Mike Wahl. “Early interventions through targeted preventive health programs have been shown to alter employee behaviours and health outcomes, which minimize long-term costs”, continues Wahl.  One area of employee health that is attracting increasing attention from wellness plan administrators is mental health and emotional wellbeing. “Mental health is one of the most important components of a wellness program,” believes Wahl. “It’s important to assess your employee’s emotional wellbeing through health risk assessment questionnaires or other tools, and then incorporate wellness services that address these needs.”


Interested in learning more? Click here or on the button below to request a free quote. 


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Medisys is Canada's leading national provider of executive health benefits and employee wellness solutions. Try some of our FREE employee health resources: 


  1. Bosh, D., A new magazine for a new era in workplace health. (2007) http://www.benefitscanada.com/benefits/health-wellness/from-the-editor-8848
  2. Ontario, H.S., The business case for a healthy workplace, W.S.P. Services., Editor. 2011.
  3. Canada, C.B.o., Smoking and the bottom line: the costs of smoking in the workplace, C.B.o. Canada, Editor. 1997: Ottawa.
  4. Vamos, E.P., et al., Comorbid depression is associated with increased healthcare utilization and lost productivity in persons with diabetes: a large nationally representative Hungarian population survey. Psychosom Med, 2009. 71(5): p. 501-7.
  5. Canada, T.C.B.o., Missing in Action: Absenteeism Trends in Canadian Organizations. 2013. p. 11.
  6. Canadian_Breast_Cancer_Network, Breast Cancer: Economic Impact and Labour Force Re-Entry., C.B.C. Network, Editor. 2007.
  7. Scott, L., Is Health Promotion Coming Back in Style? Occupational Health Nurses Journal, 2007. 26(1): p. 18-19.
  8. Ostbye, T., J.M. Dement, and K.M. Krause, Obesity and workers' compensation: results from the Duke Health and Safety Surveillance System. Arch Intern Med, 2007. 167(8): p. 766-73.