Overall Well-being As a Predictor of Healthcare, Productivity, and Retention Outcomes in a Large Employer

Authors: Sears, LE, Shi,Y, Coberley, CR, Pope, JE

Employers struggle with the high cost of health care, lost productivity, and turnover in their workforce. The present study aims to understand the association between overall well-being and these employer outcomes. In a sample of 11,700 employees who took the Well-being Assessment, the authors used multivariate linear and logistic regression to investigate overall well-being as a predictor of health care outcomes (total health care expenditure, emergency room visits, hospitalizations), productivity outcomes (unscheduled absence, short-term disability leave, presenteeism, job performance ratings), and retention outcomes (intention to stay, voluntary turnover, involuntary turnover). Testing this hypothesis both cross-sectionally and longitudinally, the authors investigated the association between baseline well-being and these outcomes in the following year, and the relationship between change in overall well-being and change in these outcomes over 1 year. The results demonstrated that baseline overall well-being was a significant predictor of all outcomes in the following year when holding baseline employee characteristics constant. Change in overall well-being over 1 year also was significantly associated with the change in employer outcomes, with the exception that the relationship to change in manager-rated job performance was marginally significant. The relationships between overall well-being and outcomes suggest that implementing a well-being improvement solution could have a significant bottom and top line impact on business performance.

Key Takeaways:

  • Overall well-being significantly predicts healthcare, productivity and retention outcomes over time. Higher well-being during the baseline year was associated with lower health- care costs, better productivity, and higher likelihood of retention (staying with the employer) one year later.
  • Well-being improved significantly over one year among this sample of employees in a well-being improvement program, with healthy behaviors of employees improving the most dramatically.
  • Changes to overall well-being over one year are significantly related to changes in health- care, productivity, and retention outcomes over one year. Those whose well-being increased tended to experience a decline in healthcare costs, improvement in productivity, and an increased likelihood of retention over the course of one year.