Employee Health and Wellness programs seem to be growing in popularity in today’s employment landscape, however the term is quite vague and lends itself to a lot of misinterpretation. Thankfully, we’ve taken the time to summarize the topic of Corporate Health and Wellness and how they benefit organizations, employees, AND your bottom line. No BS, just the facts, to help you help your employees, and your organization, reach your full potential.
Wellness programs stemmed from what were called “employee perks” for large corporations. Today, wellness programs are common in a variety of company sizes and are often an integral part of a company’s employee benefits package.
When implemented correctly, wellness programs give employees the education, motivation, tools, and support needed to successfully identify and understand the lifestyle changes they need to make, but more importantly, how to integrate those changes into their lives.
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Hospitals do a great job treating various conditions and diseases and can go a long way when it comes to early detection; however, prevention is a different story. You don’t go to a hospital unless you’re already sick or hurt. Corporate health and wellness programs focus on getting and keeping you healthy and can have a far greater impact on peoples’ health than any other approach.
Why Should You Have a Health and Wellness Program?
1) Wellness Programs Help Employees Adopt Healthier Habits
A good wellness program provides knowledge. Educating your employees gives them the necessary tools to adopt healthy lifestyle changes. Adding healthy behaviours, in turn lowers overall health risks, and lower health risks leads to a healthier workforce. Making changes and sticking to those changes are two different things. We’ve all been there: you'll start dieting/exercising tomorrow/next week, but it usually lasts for a short time.
Offering your employees a comprehensive health and wellness program significantly improves their chances of living a long, healthy life … and there’s something to be said about the employer who facilitated the positive changes that started it all.
The benefits of corporate health and wellness programs go much further than physical health; a good program also helps employees deal with mental health by addressing stress, anxiety, depression (and related symptoms).
2) Wellness Programs Reduce Health Care Costs
There are countless studies that have examined the impact of corporate wellness programs. The efficacy of a corporate health and wellness program (measured by a reduction in healthcare costs) is directly proportional to the utilization of the program. The occasional seminar or presentation on healthy behaviours is not going to make any sort of meaningful difference.
Bringing the healthcare services TO your employees takes corporate health and wellness to the next level.
Corporate wellness programs often result in savings that outweigh the actual cost of the program. A study produced by Harvard researchers showed some interesting information on the ROI of wellness programs. Among the different studies that looked at wellness programs and healthcare costs, the average return on investment was 3.27. This means that for every dollar that was spent on the program the company saved $3.27 because of reduced healthcare costs.
3) Wellness Programs Improve Productivity
We all have days where we don’t give our work 100% of our effort, it’s when that behaviour becomes a trend, or even worse, the norm, that raises concerns for employers. Some people call this phenomenon ‘presenteeism’ or being physically at work, but not being fully present. Presenteeism, often due to poor employee health, has estimated costs at least 2 to 3 times greater than direct health care expenses. However, because the employees are physically present at work, is doesn’t raise as much awareness as when employees are absent.
Many factors contribute to low employee productivity, including:
Insufficient equipment training,
Distractions from other employees,
Lack of training/expertise,
They might be playing around on social media, or online shopping
BUT, one of the main causes is … you guessed it …poor health.
Unhealthy lifestyles often result in substantially lower employee productivity. The chart below shows the rates of presenteeism of employees compared with certain health conditions. You’ll also notice that various types of pain have an effect on presenteeism. Employees who suffer from neck/back pain are 79% more likely to have high presenteeism than those who don’t … PAIN IS NOT NORMAL … DON’T IGNORE IT!
Health and wellness programs that prioritize the adoption of healthier behaviours will ultimately have an impact on employee productivity.
4) Wellness Programs Can Decrease Absenteeism
Health and wellness programs that prioritize the adoption of healthier behaviours will ultimately have an impact on productivity.
Health and wellness programs improve employee health which has a positive effect on the reduction of absenteeism. Physical health is important, but mental and social health is arguably just as important. Higher employee satisfaction rates are directly and inversely linked to lower absenteeism. Let’s face it, if you weren’t happy at work, your threshold for calling in sick would be much lower. Creating and fostering a healthy atmosphere in the workplace is an important part of employee wellness; team meetings, social gathering, team-building events, all contribute to a workplace that people are actively engaged with and proud to be a part of.
5) Wellness Programs Play a Key Role in Attracting and Retaining Top Talent
The status quo has changed; it’s no longer sufficient to offer a good salary and health benefits, especially if you want to attract and retain top talent. You can look at it one of two ways:
1) As an expense
2) As an investment
It’s important for companies to consider their compensation structure as a complete package, not just salary and benefits.
Ask yourself, what are all the benefits your company offers that makes working for your company a more attractive option than the other companies trying to recruit the same people?
Your employees are your greatest asset, and you need to treat them that way, or they’re going to leave and work somewhere they’re appreciated. Offering a corporate health and wellness program to your employees sends a strong message that you not only care about them as an employee but that you care about them as a person.
6) Corporate Health and Wellness Programs Boost Employee Morale
Organizational culture is important to your employees and your industry … so make it a priority. Making an effort to create a positive, inclusive, caring culture in your organization positions your organization as an industry leader and one that people will gravitate to.
Providing a corporate health and wellness program shows your employees:
You respect them
You trust them
You want to help them be successful
People thrive in situations where they feel valued and respected. Employees care about working in a healthy work environment AND somewhere they can grow professionally.
Give you employees the tools, resources and support they need to live healthy lives and they’ll repay you by way of being more productive, dedicated employees.