Most employers implementing worker wellbeing programmes are missing the link between health and employee productivity, recent research suggests.

Towers Watson conducted a survey which found that two-thirds (66 per cent) of organisations see linking health to staff performance as a relatively limited part of their wellbeing initiatives.

While the majority (69 per cent) of companies said they are planning to develop health and wellbeing strategies in the next two years, only 11 per cent see productivity as a priority in this area.

For many organisations, one of the main aims of introducing programmes of this kind is to be seen as a responsible employer, according to Towers Watson.

Another goal is strengthening preventative health measures to manage rising healthcare and disability costs, which could also be achieved through the introduction of absence management software.

Rebekah Haymes, senior health and wellbeing consultant at Towers Watson, praised companies that have introduced schemes to improve the physical and mental wellness of their staff, but said these efforts are being held back by failure to link them to productivity.

"Improved health can help to manage absence, stress and employee performance. These all have a commercial payback," she commented.

"Without the link between employee behaviour and payback to the employer, it raises the question as to why companies are promoting a health and wellbeing agenda."

Nearly half (46 per cent) of workers believe health issues have had an impact on their productivity in the past, according to previous Towers Watson research.

Less than a fifth (17 per cent) of people with health problems described themselves as highly engaged in their work, compared with a third (32 per cent) of respondents who said their health was very good.

Absence management services can help employers by tracking attendance patterns and identifying potential problem areas at an early stage, which could cut costs and improve efficiency in the long run.

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