Human capital is at the heart of most successful businesses, yet at a time when New Year’s resolutions abound on an individual level — with a majority being health and well-being focused as many of us strive to eat better, exercise more, stop smoking, etc.— too many companies are focused on business as usual as well as how to improve their bottom line, and do not link employee health and well-being with corporate performance. New research suggests this is short-sighted.

Three studies recently published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM) by workplace health experts including Ray Fabius, Ron Goetzel, and Ron Loeppke among others, found that companies investing in employee health outperformed their S&P 500 peers by 7-16% per year over more than a decade. These companies were identified based on their receiving evidence-based awards such as the C. Everett Koop Award or the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) Corporate Health Achievement Award, as well as scoring highly on the HERO self-assessment.

The JOEM studies do not prove cause and effect but do confirm a link between best-in-class workplace health programs and improved stock performance. What does this mean, practically speaking? That investing in evidence-based employee health programs is not a bad allocation of resources, and may be a useful proxy for other highly effective business practices as well as good governance.

Shahnaz Radjy is Senior Communications Specialist at Vitality working with the Chief Health Officer Derek Yach. She leads on their PR, communications, and social media presence, as well as the integrated health metrics reporting project.

Daniel Malan is a Senior Lecturer in Ethics and Governance and Director of the Centre for Corporate Governance in Africa at the University of Stellenbosch Business School in South Africa. His focus areas are corporate governance, business ethics and corporate responsibility. 

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