The extent to which any organisation dedicates its finite resources towards employee
health and well-being issues is driven by some combination of ethical, legal and
economic factors. This thesis is concerned with demonstrating the economic value of
investments in employee health and well-being, focusing on how economic information
is and could be generated and how organisations process this information in their
decision-making regarding employee health and well-being issues. The thesis explores
the notion that better, more appropriate economic information and more rigorous
economic evaluation methodologies are important in creating incentives for organisations
to invest in and better manage the health and well-being of their employees.
A series of studies are presented: a review of the existing literature reporting cost-of illness
and cost-effectiveness type studies; a study exploring current practice using a
focus group followed by a series of individual interviews with key occupational health
professionals in the UK; a study reporting a survey of specialist and generalist managers'
attitudes, perceptions, information needs and experience of employee health and wellbeing
'business cases'; economic evaluation methods and their application to the
occupational health setting are reviewed. These studies served to directly inform the
design and development of an economic framework approach using employee self-report
data to construct empirical case studies to demonstrate the correlation between employer
costs and employee health and well-being metrics. These studies provide new
information on the relative marginal effects of cost to an organisation of changes in
different employee health and well-being measures.
This knowledge could aid resource allocation decisions by providing estimates of the
value to an organisation of effects that could be delivered by a diverse range of employee
health and well-being interventions or policies. The separation of this economic
information about the costs of employee health and well-being issues from economic
information about specific interventions is likely to be key in creating incentives for
organisations to invest in employee health and well-being.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.