New Year’s resolutions begin to wane in March. Despite this, implementing an employee wellness program is a resolution that has staying power. And, the results for both employer and employee are well worth the investment.
Programs focusing on employee health are more popular than ever. They started out as employee perks for large corporations; in fact, they used to be called corporate fitness programs. Today, these plans are common among both medium and small-sized businesses and have become a regular part of a company’s benefits package. When done correctly, these programs give employees incentives, tools, social support, privacy, and strategies to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors.
Why Wellness Programs Have Staying Power
There are a variety of incentives to employers that implement quality of life programming, as well as to the employees that benefit from them. Plans focusing on employee lifestyle choices have been found to:
- Improve employee health behaviors: The core of every good wellness program is behavior and these programs encourage people to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors. These behaviors lead to lower health risks, and lower health risks lead to less chronic disease. Research shows that the benefits of wellness plans include improvement in physical activity; higher fruit and vegetable consumption; lower fat intake; and a reduction in body weight, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. High-risk employees are three times more likely to file workers’ compensation claims, so it’s imperative we do our part to ensure employee well-being is a top priority.
- Increase employee productivity and decrease absenteeism: Poor employee productivity can be defined as physically being at work but not working. This type of poor productivity is called presenteeism. It is estimated that the cost associated with presenteeism due to poor employee health is at least 2 to 3 times greater than direct health care expenses! Employees in failing health are also subject to calling out more often, as unhealthy individual lifestyle choices may result in substantially higher levels of lost productive work time. Placing the focus on an employee’s health puts an emphasis on their quality of life, resulting in increased productivity and enhanced memory and focus.
- Lead to lower health care costs: With less chronic disease, employees have fewer health care costs, and less medical claims filed! The ability of a wellness program to reduce health care costs depends upon how effective the program really is. Having an occasional lunch & learn about nutrition or just doing a biometric screening will not be enough to move the cost needle. However, there is mounting evidence that quality of life programs do reduce health care costs, which is a win-win for both employers and employees.
Resolving to do Better for your Employees
Focusing on the quality of an employee’s lifestyle offers many benefits, including identifying employee issues, initiating change, and improving health and well-being. Since wellness programs are also a smart business decision designed to reduce health care and workers’ compensation costs, why not integrate them into your corporate policies and planning?