A recent Gallup report estimates the cost of absenteeism due to depression to 28 billion US dollars. It is not the first report nor the first time a link is made between depression (and consequently happiness) and absenteeism at work (and it direct and indirect costs). If we extrapolate these numbers for an average company of a 1000 employees, we will have, on average, 60 employees (we use de more conservative numbers and consider only people actually diagnosed and in treatment) suffering from depression having each an average of 4,3 additional days of absenteeism (the more conservative number) with a cost of 250€ per day (conservative currency conversion). If we do the math: 60 x 4,3 x 250€= 64.400,-€ per year just for absenteeism (likely to be twice the cost and to have an additional cost for loss of productivity as it was estimated by other studies).
In terms of risk management, for most large corporate of 1000 employees (or more), 65.000€ is not a number big enough to be a major concern (even if you triple the figure, what could be a more realistic estimate of the cost for large european companies, even more in Belgium where salary costs are extremely high) for risk managers. However, the financial, operational and human benefits of having happier employees might not be ignored as « happy » companies seems to have higher productivity, client satisfaction and revenue than others « less happy » organization.
Nevertheless, we do believe it is a wrong question to ask. In order to succeed, engaging an organization into a « happiness at work » journey should be a human decision based on a true believes, on inner values from senior management . Doing the things right should be the main purpose. Return on investment will « only » be the cherry on the cake.