Wellness Program at UK University Saves $116,000 a Year


Have you ever tried to convince senior management to invest in a wellness program only to give up in frustration? It can be hard enough to get a company to invest in an OHS program, which is essentially required by law. Getting it to spend money on an optional wellness program can be a tall order. But if you can show senior management that such programs can pay off, you have a shot at winning them over.

University Wellness Program Pays Off

One of England’s largest universities says it’s saving the equivalent of about $116,000 a year since implementing a comprehensive workplace wellness program two years ago.

Leeds Metropolitan University says stress-related work absence has dropped by 16% and its incident rate currently stands at 64.7 per 100,000 employees, compared to the average rate of 325 per 100,000 for the sector.

John Hamilton, head of safety, health and wellbeing at the university, initiated the wellness program in response to high staff absenteeism and allegations of harassment.

Hamilton, a member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), worked with a team at the university to set up a self-help website that initially covered more than 75 wellness-related topics, including stress, fitness and coping with money worries and grief. The website now covers more than 200 areas of advice, support and guidance.

The university has also presented dozens of wellness events, ranging from health checks and exercise classes to stress-management workshops and self-help sessions.

“The most important thing about the program is the staff feels that the university cares about them and their wellbeing,” he says. “It’s a great atmosphere to work in and because of that, motivation and productivity have improved and absence levels are down, proving that a happy workforce is a successful one.”

According to the IOSH, the wellness program is a model for other organizations. IOSH says the university “has gone through a culture change, cutting lost-time and absenteeism, while making a saving that, for other businesses, could be the difference between survival and failure—crucial in the current economic climate.”