Return on investment is the top priority for HR professionals

Demonstrating return on their investment is the number one priority for HR professionals over the next 12 months, research commissioned by PMI Health Group has revealed.

The study, conducted by Imperial College Business School among HR directors and managers for large UK corporate businesses, found that more than a third (35 per cent) consider ROI validation for their decisions their biggest concern.

This was followed closely by the need to implement new systems, such as IT and flexible benefits (30 per cent), with 28 per cent saying they would be looking to save money on employee healthcare support costs.

“Business confidence may be returning but HR professionals remain under pressure to demonstrate the value of the HR function,” said Mike Blake, director at PMI Health Group, the largest independent provider of employee health risk management.

“Employee healthcare programmes are often considered as a nice to have rather than a strategic imperative by business leaders – but a healthy workforce can contribute to a healthy bottom line. With appropriate evaluation frameworks in place, the returns can be measured to reassure CEOs and CFOs.”

Thirty-nine per cent of practitioners said they needed expert advice on how to run a successful corporate wellbeing scheme, with three-quarters using specialist advisors to help select employee healthcare products. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) look for information from the HR press to help select healthcare providers.

Only 15 per cent regarded managing absence as a top priority over the next 12 months, although 49 per cent admitted managing absence effectively posed a problem for their companies.

“Managing sickness absence should be a key driver behind any healthcare programme,” added Mike.

“The business cost can be considerable from paying salaries or sick pay, to replacement staffing costs – not to mention its impact on customer satisfaction and workforce morale. This cost can be calculated however if robust processes for measuring absence are in place.”

A 2012 CIPD study found sickness absence cost an average of £600 per employee.