According to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Education Trust, 81 percent of large employers and 49 percent of small employers offer wellness programs to their employees. These programs aim to improve employees’ well-being by encouraging them to lose weight, stop smoking or make other positive lifestyle changes.
What is Workplace Wellness?
Workplace wellness consists of initiatives to help create and support a healthy workforce. Holistic health promotion uses a combination of effective and inclusive program design, a good health benefits plan and a safe and ergonomically sound work environment. There are several different methods employers may implement in their workplace wellness program including, but not limited to:
- Education programs - posters, newsletters, lunch & learns, etc.
- Participatory and/or Activity-based programs - smoking cessation, walking programs, weight loss initiatives, etc.
- HRAs and/or biometric screenings
Do Wellness Programs Really Work?
Wellness program success within an organization is never guaranteed. However, there are some key factors that help create an increased rate of success for every organization. The most important lies with the C-Suite and management positions. Employee wellbeing must be a priority to create effective policies, budgets, support for implementing the initiatives and employee buy in. Other contributing factors to a successful program include a thorough needs assessment, a well-designed health benefits plan, vision and realistic outcomes expectations.
Why Workplace Wellness?
Heathy employees affect your company’s bottom line in many ways—in particular, lower health care costs, reduce Worker’s Compensation and Disability costs, increase productivity, decrease absenteeism and increased employee morale. Since most full-time employees spend about half of their waking hours at work, this is the ideal environment to help employees create positive lifestyle change.1. Control Health Insurance Costs
Health care costs can be a significant portion of a company’s budget, so strategically targeting this expense with intentional programs can improve an employer’s bottom line. Employees with more health risk factors, including obesity, depression, hypertension and diabetes to name a few, cost more to insure than employees with fewer risk factors. A wellness program can help support employees with high risk factors, make positive lifestyle changes that will improve their quality of life, and reduce their health care costs. A good wellness program will also help employees with fewer risk factors maintain a clean bill of health.2. Reduce Workers’ Compensation and Disability Costs
Comprehensive wellness programs that incorporate ergonomic assessment and change where necessary also help improve employee health and often reduce the risk of a workplace injury, illness or disability. This, in turn, can save employers money, not just on insurance premiums and benefits paid out, but also on the costs associated with worker injury.3. Increase Employee Productivity and Fewer Missed Days
Healthier employees mean fewer sick days, which is another benefit employers can achieve through wellness programs. When employees feel well, are well rested and comfortable in their workspace, productivity increases and error rate decreases. These are all positive factors that affect ROI and yield significant cost savings.4. Higher Morale and Improved Recruiting
A company that cares about its employees' health is often seen as a better place to work, and wellness programs can attract top talent in a competitive market. In addition, demonstrating a commitment to your employees’ health can improve employee morale and strengthen retention. Below are some of the benefits employees can experience after joining a wellness program:
- Increased well-being, improved self-image and higher self-esteem
- Improved coping skills with stress or other health factors
- Reduced risk for developing chronic or life-threatening conditions
- Increased motivation to improve health
- Improved overall health
- Lower costs for health care (fewer doctor visits, lower premiums, less need for expensive care, etc.)
- Access to needed social support, as co-workers also strive toward healthier lifestyles
- Improved job satisfaction
- Safer and more productive work environment
Employees who experience these positive changes and benefits will often feel more loyal to their company and be more grateful for the company’s commitment to their health.
This article was adapted from Zywave. The information provided is not intended to be exhaustive, nor should it be construed as advice regarding coverage. Readers should contact an insurance professional for appropriate advice concerning their needs.