A company’s employees are its most valuable asset—and their physical and mental well-being can affect productivity and profits. That’s why more and more employers are beginning to weave workplace wellness programs into their culture. Since August is National Wellness Month, this is the perfect time to discuss some ways you can make your employee’s well-being a priority all year long.
WHAT ARE WORKPLACE WELLNESS PROGRAMS?
Simply put, they’re an effort by an employer to help improve employee health. They include everything from weight loss and smoking cessation initiatives to fitness challenges and stress management seminars. And according to some studies, they’re also one of the wisest investments an employer can make. Research by the Rand Corporation shows that employees’ targeted wellness programs focused on disease management have an ROI of over three times their cost to implement. In addition to promoting healthy lifestyles and happier, more productive employees, wellness programs have the added benefit of potentially lowering health insurance premiums for employers.
Poor health habits are often linked to lower productivity levels and a higher risk of health risks and chronic diseases. Employees who eat well and exercise are likely to be more productive than those who don’t.
A boost to morale
Employees are generally happiest when they feel appreciated by their employers. Wellness programs can make employees feel valued, heightening their enthusiasm and morale.
Help with retention and recruitment
Wellness plans play a vital role in employee retention. But they also help companies hire better employees—since many job searchers are strongly influenced by health offerings and lifestyle benefits when they choose an employer.
Workplaces with comprehensive wellness initiatives experience less absenteeism due to employees being healthier and suffering less stress, leading to cost savings.
Fewer health risks
Helping employees embrace healthier behaviors reduces health risks throughout the company. This helps lower your overall health care costs.
CREATING YOUR EMPLOYEE WELLNESS PROGRAM
A few basic steps can help you implement a successful employee wellness plan for your company.
1. Set specific goals
Too often, companies start down the path of tackling “wellness” without a clear vision of the main objective. While the apparent goal is to develop a plan that caters to employees, you should ensure that any program you implement benefits the staff and the company. Outline a vision of what success looks like from both perspectives. You can also ask your health insurance plan administrator about any wellness programs they offer and incorporate those into your plan.
2. Select a team
Implementing a workplace wellness plan can be a time-consuming affair. That’s why it’s crucial to assemble a team that believes in the project and which will provide you with support throughout the process. Even though the team will likely be led by HR, it should also include people who have a good understanding of the employees and are interested in promoting a healthy workplace. Try to include team members from various departments to have multiple perspectives.
3. Select your organization’s specific benefits
A successful wellness program will go well beyond such basics as providing access to healthy lunch and snacks and could include measures such as:
- Educational programs: These may include guest lectures, free access to online resources, or paid time off to attend health and wellness workshops. The purpose is to provide relevant information and teach employees to make healthier decisions.
- Preventative care programs: Services that are designed to reduce the risk for serious illness and disease including smoking cessation initiatives, on-site vaccinations, age-appropriate screenings, and more.
- Fitness programs: These could be on-site fitness classes, gym memberships, or incentives for exercise.
- Disease management: This can be helpful if you learn that several employees have a common condition (like obesity, diabetes, etc.). It can take the form of everything from pharmacy benefits to guest speakers and educational materials.
- Community-building programs: Solutions aimed to develop stronger relationships between coworkers through healthy activities—like exercise, sports leagues, etc.
4. Communicate the program
Over 85% of large employers offer a corporate wellness program, but only 60% of their employees know it exists. You should communicate your wellness efforts to employees so they can understand the elements involved, the importance of wellness, and its positive effect on their lives. For example, you can create and distribute a document that outlines the details of your initiative.
5. Continue to update your program
As your employees and company change, updating your employee wellness program may be necessary. You should review it annually to monitor what’s working and what’s not—and to identify any potential cost-saving measures. You should also ask employees which benefits they’re using and ask for recommendations that may help the organization.
A healthy, happy workforce is a win-win, providing benefits to employees and employers alike. Wellness programs don’t just increase productivity but also lead to increased engagement, improved employee morale and retention, and reduced health risks.
At Health & Benefits Partners, we’re committed to helping companies safeguard the health and well-being of their employees—and helping them focus on workplace wellness is a great place to start. If you’d like to learn more about how implementing a wellness program in your company can impact your health care costs, reach out to our experienced and knowledgeable team today.