The definition of what constitutes a workplace wellness program is becoming more complicated each day. Years ago, wellness programs at work were occasional “Wednesday Wellness Walks.” Maybe even some well-placed posters are hung on the wall with “Everyone Loves a Quitter” quit-smoking advertisements. While these strategies and tactics were well-intentioned, employee adoption was next to nothing. That’s because employee wellness programs need to be personal to work. Half-hearted attempts by managers or business owners to keep dated programs alive became another chore to complete throughout their day. Things are changing when it comes to wellness programs at work. In the last 50 years, these programs have taken advantage of the digital space and do allow employees to customize and make them their own. A synergy between employee wellness and employee benefits is forming. One study found that 71 percent of employers with over 100 employees are integrating health and dental benefits into their employee wellness program. But why?
What Impact Do Wellness Programs Have on Employees?
The most noticeable impact a workplace wellness program can have on employees is purely making them healthier and happier. A different study found that “all employees who participated improved productivity an average of one full workday per month!” That has a significant impact on the bottom line. Healthier and happier employees experience more job satisfaction. In turn, this can help to reduce their workplace stress.
“There’s a noteworthy shift in employers’ mindsets,” researchers said. “In previous years, companies that integrated were generally focused on the financial potential. Now they’re turning to integration not just for savings, but for happier workers.”
What Return Do Employers Get by Implementing A Workplace Wellness Program?
Can an organization see a real return on each invested dollar into a company wellness program? The research to prove this isn’t quite there yet, with studies providing contradicting results. One study in Management Science Journal looked at the costs associated with absenteeism. They also looked at the potential savings in health care costs. For each dollar invested in an employer-sponsored wellness program, the cost savings was $2.73 for absenteeism and $3.27 for health care costs. But these numbers vary from business to business.
Studies are proving that workplace wellness programs benefit the employer through dramatic increases in work productivity. A study by the University of California at Riverside showed that healthier employees’ productivity improved by as much as 11%. On average, though, employers can expect to see worker productivity improvement closer to 5% after implementing a wellness program. Don’t forget that these programs can also impact staff retention, which in turn helps offset hiring and staff training costs over the long run.
Integration of Wellness and Benefits
Employers are looking at “whole person health” today, which includes wellness programs and education around health benefits. This ranges from health insurance, dental insurance, and eye insurance. As an employer, it’s not enough to start adding wellness and benefits that you feel will benefit your staff. Employers need to find out what’s most important to their employees by asking them directly. Take the time to educate them on how wellness programs, a healthy lifestyle, and their cost of benefits interact. Take the time to educate and engage them in the process and your business and your staff will reap the rewards.
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