When you have healthy and happy employees, your company reaps its benefits. A well designed wellness program can increase productivity, boost employee morale and reduce stress. Wellness programs help employees make smart and healthy choices that can reduce health care costs, increase vitality and diminish absenteeism.
What Is A Workplace Wellness Program?
Being in good physical and mental shape sets a person up to be great at their job. Many companies understand this and offer their employees a series of benefits and activities that promote health and well-being. This is known as an employee wellness program. Any program implemented by a company to improve the health of its labor force qualifies as a wellness program. Wellness is more than simply not being ill. It focuses on keeping your body and mind in great condition so it runs more efficiently and you have sustained good health.
A very good example of a highly successful workplace wellness program is that of Google’s. Google’s workplace wellness program focuses on the health and happiness of its employees and is considered as highly instrumental in its business growth. Their wellness program is all-encompassing and features onsite healthcare services, like physicians, chiropractors and massage services and of course, they also have fitness centers and fitness classes. The campus cafeterias are stocked with nutritious, color-coded meals, and also, smaller plates to help with portion control. Not to mention, employees are granted flexible hours, vacation time, and volunteer time, helping Googlers achieve the perfect work-life balance.
It’s not just Google. Employee wellness programs are everywhere today. They started out as employee perks for large multinational corporations, as corporate fitness programmes. Today, however, wellness programs are common among both medium and small-sized businesses. Wellness programs are now regularly part of a company benefits package. There’s plenty of studies which attest to a workplace wellness programme’s efficacy.
- A 2012 review of 62 studies published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, found 25 percent lower sick leave, health plan, workers’ compensation, and disability insurance costs among companies that had wellness programs.
- Another study that looked at wellness programs and healthcare costs concluded that the average return on investment was 3 times. This means that for every dollar that was spent on the workplace wellness program, the company saved three dollars in the long run because of reduced healthcare costs.
We’ve pulled together a list of compelling data-backed benefits of employee wellness programs. Based on a range of criteria, from financial strategy to employee retention, we conclude that employee wellness programs definitely deserve your company’s attention and investment.
1. Reduces The Risk Of Lifestyle-related Diseases
The core of every good wellness program should be to promote behavior change among employees to promote healthy lifestyle choices. With the right education, skills, motivation, and social support, people change behaviors. Wellness programs are good at helping people adopt and maintain healthy behaviors. This is perhaps the biggest benefit of implementing a wellness program in your office.
Healthy behaviors lead to lower health risks which in turn lead to less chronic diseases. With less chronic disease, employees have fewer health care costs. A properly executed wellness program will make employees more motivated to make healthier lifestyle choices and avoid risky behavior, which will curb the current epidemic of lifestyle-related diseases.
Health-conscious employees eat healthier foods, they eat smaller portions, they exercise more often, they smoke less, they don’t drink in excess, they wear seat belts, and they’re pretty good at controlling their stress without resorting to harmful behavior. All in all, an employee should never feel like their job with all its stressors and complications is standing in the way of them leading a healthier lifestyle.
2. Boosts Productivity And Engagement Among Employees
It is estimated that the cost associated with lack of productivity among employees, is 2 to 3 times greater than direct health expenses due to absenteeism. This hidden cost is subject to much less scrutiny than direct costs due to health care expenses.
Although there can be plenty of factors determining an employees productivity, for example, a lack of knowledge in what they’re doing or getting distracted by other employees, etc. However, the primary reason for a lack of productivity is because employees feel tired, which is a direct result of unhealthy lifestyle choices and a lack of fitness.
Smokers were 28% more likely to be less productive than non-smokers. Employees with an unhealthy diet were 66% more likely to have less productivity than those who regularly ate whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Employees who didn’t exercise a lot were 50% more likely to have less productivity than employees who were regular exercisers. These findings demonstrate that poor health behaviors are strongly associated with high levels of wasted time at the office.
Employees who smoke, drink to excess, eat unhealthy food are far more likely to fall prey to heart diseases, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, all of which leads to recurring pain, discomfort, uneasiness and an overall lack of productivity at the workplace. A workplace wellness program can combat all of that. This makes for a much more efficient and lively workplace where employees work together to produce results, quick and fast. An employee who feels appreciated and is happy at work will work far better than someone who feels sick and tired.
3. Helps Employee Recruitment And Retention
Employee Personnel is the most important asset in every organization. When an employer offers a wellness program to its employees, they are basically saying “We think you are a very important part of this organization and we want you to be healthy, happy, and employed here for a long time”. When you offer your employees a wellness program, you are showing them that you care about them and their well-being.
You are letting your employees know you want to do everything you can to keep them in good health. Employees know when they are appreciated. That knowledge can do a long way toward convincing employees to stick around. They can go and find another job, but will they be treated and valued in the same way?
In the same way, a workplace wellness program will have a significant impact on a company’s ability to attract and recruit talent. When you offer free gym membership, a wellness program, and healthy food choices in the cafeteria as part of your benefits program, you show that you care for your employees and the culture of the office is such that it promotes healthy lifestyle choices. A work environment where employees are looking after each other, backed up by the top administration investing in wellness programmes, is an ideal environment for every employee, new and old.
4. Less Absenteeism Due to Poor Health
Another very tangible way a workplace wellness program benefits your office is by reducing absenteeism. This is a natural outcome of healthier lifestyle choices but there are more reasons as well.
- Absenteeism can be attributed to an inability to deal with stress which leads to less stress-induced diseases like high blood pressure, obesity, asthma, headaches and gastrointestinal problems.
- Psychosocial stress in the office leads to anxiety in employees which not only hampers work performance but might cause employees to miss work more often, because of an unfavorable work environment.
- A lack of physical activity due to a sedentary lifestyle leads to an impaired immune system. This makes you more vulnerable to diseases like the flu, colds, pneumonia, sinus and urinary tract infections. A healthy immune system is necessary to ward off diseases from viruses and bacteria.
- Long hours of sitting in the office lead to knee/leg pain and pain in the back and neck. Left unattended, these problems will grow worse with time.
5. Boosts Employee Morale And Engagement
Employee morale is a huge factor in the success or failure of any business. A good wellness program goes a long way in keeping employees happy and healthy. With a workplace wellness program in place, an employee will feel that his life outside the workplace is being enriched as well because of his better physical and mental health.
When you offer your employees a wellness program, it shows that you trust them and that you want to help them be successful in life. Employees have high morale when they feel safe and appreciated and are allowed to be creative and solve problems. This helps them develop self-esteem, and achieve personal goals and aspirations. Employees are happy when they have a sense of control over their lives and their health.
Also, by their very nature, employee wellness programs depend on the participation of multiple employees. Wellness programs involve shared goals and struggles and maybe even group meetings, support groups. and fitness activities. As employees work on improving their health together, bonding and camaraderie will follow. An often cited problem in many workplaces is a lack of communication. Implementing an employee wellness program will have your employees working together towards the same goal, outside of their usual work responsibilities. This would definitely be great for boosting communication in the company.
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