Nearly half of all US businesses offer some type of health promotion or wellness program, according to a study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion. Wellness programs are often offered to employees as a preventative measure to reduce illnesses while improving the overall health of the workforce. This can be achieved through communication, education, and a supportive work environment.
Today, employee wellness programs are in virtually every industry and offer both employers and employees a range of valuable benefits. Of course, it is also important to consider the costs associated with starting and running these programs.
Assisting Employees in Adopting and Managing Healthier Behaviors
Employee wellness programs go by several names, such as corporate health solutions, workplace wellness programs, and employee well-being programs. Regardless of the term used, these programs share a common goal which is to help improve the health and wellness of the workforce.
These initiatives aid employees in adopting healthier lifestyle habits to avoid illness, overcome chronic conditions, and maintain holistic health. Healthy habits in employees often result in positive health outcomes, greater engagement, and higher productivity. Employee wellness programs are often tailored to work sites to take into account the unique needs of workers in a particular industry.
What Should an Employee Wellness Program Include?
There is no one-size-fits-all for employee wellness programs. When building an employee wellness program for a business, consider the following ideas:
- Provide fitness breaks – Offer employees periodic breaks to stretch their legs and get in a quick workout. This could range from a short walk around the building to a series of standing exercises at their desk.
- Invest in ergonomic furniture – The right office chair can make all the difference in the comfort and physical health of employees. Invest in quality ergonomic furniture for the workplace to reduce physical strain on employees.
- Offer healthy foods – Instead of having chips and other unhealthy food options in the break room, cafeteria, or vending machine, supply workers with healthy options.
- Become pet-friendly – Mental health is just as important as physical health. Allowing your employees to bring their pets to work can boost happiness and morale.
- Consider health incentives – Many employees respond well to health incentives outside the workplace, such as discounts on gym memberships or coupons for local health food stores.
The Costs of Creating and Maintaining an Employee Wellness Program
The cost of starting and maintaining an employee wellness program can vary significantly from one business to the next. Employers must consider what types of incentives and opportunities they want to provide to their workforce.
For example, employers that choose to offer their employees a discount on a gym membership must consider the cost of a gym membership and the number of employees likely to participate. Partnering with a local gym could help save money on membership fees.
Biometric screenings are a popular wellness program option designed to measure health risks. Common biometric measures include cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose, cancer screening, and body fat (BMI). Biometric screenings are fairly affordable but can provide great insight as to what employees require the most assistance.
Some companies will also want to look into the cost of other employee wellness incentives, such as health coaching companies. Hiring a health coach to meet with employees to work on issues like weight, nutrition, and smoking can be a great investment.
The Advantages of Implementing an Employee Wellness Program
Many employers wonder if the advantages of implementing an employee wellness program are worth the cost. In the majority of cases, the answer is yes. Here are some of the top benefits of putting an employee wellness program into action:
Companies Experience Higher Productivity Rates
One of the biggest benefits that companies can achieve when they introduce an employee wellness program is higher productivity rates. According to a study by the University of California, Riverside, corporate wellness programs have been found to save businesses money by reducing health insurance costs and absenteeism.
The results of the study also found that a wellness program resulted in higher productivity in all participating employees. This significant improvement was approximately equal to an additional productive workday per month for the average employee.
Employees Are More Engaged in Meetings, Less Disruptive, and More Role Focused
Employee wellness benefits have also been found to improve engagement, help workers maintain greater focus on their job responsibilities, and are less disruptive in the workplace.
According to the Go Five-Year Study, employees who were highly engaged in rewards and wellness programs offered by their employers over the course of several years were found to be more productive and had fewer unhealthy days.
Employee wellness programs are designed to boost employees’ physical, emotional, mental, and financial health. In turn, employers experience reduced absenteeism and employee turnover. Reducing workplace disruptions resulted in lower stress levels, higher employee engagement, and workers who are more focused on their key tasks.
Decrease Your Employee’s Monthly Health-Care Premium Costs
Health-care costs continue to be a concern among employees struggling to make ends meet. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, employers pay about 83 percent of their employee’s health insurance premiums for single coverage and about 73 percent for family coverage. Just 27 percent of small business employees do not pay any percentage of their health-care premiums.
Investing in an employee wellness program is an effective way to help reduce the monthly health-care premium costs of employees. These programs strive to reduce health-care costs by providing employees with interventions that help them manage their level of risk and adopt healthier lifestyle habits. Decreasing monthly premium costs may also result in fewer insurance claims that need to be filed.
Reduce Absenteeism and Improve Employee Health
Another major benefit of employee wellness programs is reduced absenteeism. There are many reasons why employees may choose to not come to work, such as stress, anxiety, depression, illness, lack of motivation, injury, physical disability, or anger toward the company.
Oftentimes, employee absenteeism is linked to an employee’s mental and physical health. Implementing an employee wellness program can help improve employee health by providing workers with incentives. In addition to wellness incentives like ergonomic furniture, pet days, and retirement plans, consider giving benefits-based incentives like:
- Paid vacation days
- Discounts on health insurance premiums
- Contributions to investment savings accounts
- Lower insurance co-pays or deductibles
- Contributions to health savings accounts
Start Building an Employee Wellness Program That Works for Your Organization
A well-designed and implemented employee wellness program has the ability to not only help employees but also save employers money. According to a brief by the RAND Corporation, the return on investment (ROI) for disease management programs is $3.80, meaning a return of $3.80 for every dollar an employer invested in the program. The ROI from lifestyle management programs is 50 cents, resulting in a total ROI of $1.50 from both employee wellness programs.
The experienced team at New City Insurance helps businesses build customized wellness plans designed to drive engagement. New City wellness plans include incentive rewards, data-proven wellness strategies, and an online platform and mobile app to help employees stay on top of their health. To consult with a New City wellness professional, request a consultation online or call 888.210.2765.