Since the introduction of the triple bottom line into business language, one of the most obvious so-called non-financial factors has largely been disregarded by stakeholders, including investors. That factor is the health of employees.
Admittedly, there has been a focus on health, but this has mostly been confined to the area of occupational safety and health (OSH). As long as accidents were avoided and employees were not exposed to illegal levels of noise or toxins, the OHS boxes could be ticked and the compliance officers remained happy. For many years, elaborate business cases were constructed for environmental and social interventions (strategic CSR or, more recently, Creating Shared Value), but almost nobody paid attention to the following logic: Improve the health of employees, which will improve productivity, which will improve profits, which will improve the share price.
Fortunately, things have changed. The World Economic Forum has identified the growing importance of health in the economy as one of the top 10 global trends for 2015. Third on the list of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals is to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”. The Vitality Institute Commission on Health Promotion and the Prevention of Chronic Disease in Working-Age Americans produced a comprehensive report with far-reaching recommendations for health policies and actions in the United States. From an investment perspective, the value of healthy employees is becoming increasingly clear.
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