Employee wellness programs have grown in popularity with the rise of health insurance premiums. Businesses benefit greatly from these programs, which improve many aspects of an employee’s life, from physical fitness to financial wellness. Each business can create their own unique programs that are beneficial to employees and offer the greatest return for employers.
Employee wellness programs offer employers more than improvements in the quality of life for their employees. Well designed and executed employee wellness programs also offer many benefits for the employer. A well-run program can have a return on investment as high as 600 percent of the total invested.
What are Employee Wellness Programs?
An employee wellness program is any program that seeks to improve an employee’s quality of life. Wellness programs may encompass many aspects of an employee’s life. Most programs are created to improve employee health through fitness and preventative health measures. Other programs also address other aspects of an employee’s life, such as mental health and work-life balance.
Some employee wellness programs go beyond the employee’s wellness and include family members. These programs are also beneficial to an employer because family health can impact an employee’s attendance and morale. It also lowers the cost to the employer of providing healthcare for an employee’s family.
How to Create and Implement an Employee Wellness Program
Once you have decided that an employee wellness program is a good fit for your employees and business, you will need to create and implement a program that benefits everyone affected. The California Department of Public Health, or C.D.P.H., has outlined its recommendations for the process in its publication, “Developing an Employee Wellness Program.”
C.D.P.H. recommends forming a committee of representatives of all interested groups. This committee should assess the needs of the employer and its employees and address those needs individually. Once all of the needs have been identified, a plan can be created and implemented.
Why an Employee Wellness Program is Helpful to Employees?
Employee wellness programs are a great way for employees to identify and prevent health issues before they become serious. Health assessments can identify employee health problems early so that the employee can receive prompt, effective care.
This prevents absenteeism and increases the employee’s ability to control health issues before they escalate.
Other benefits for employees depend upon the programs that employers offer. Some employers encourage improving physical fitness through fitness breaks or encouraging the use of fitness trackers. To encourage involvement, incentives are often given to employees who join these programs.
Ways in Which a Good Employee Wellness Program Can Help Your Business
Save Employers Money on Employee Health Costs
The bottom line is that effective employee wellness programs save businesses money. The start-up costs of these programs are well worth the investment into the company’s workforce. Employees who participate in employee wellness programs are happier and healthier and perform better work and take less time off work due to illness.
Most sources agree that a high-quality employee wellness program will return on the investment up to six-fold when all factors are considered. An unhealthy workforce costs employers a significant amount of money each year. It is estimated that for every 1,000 employees, hypertension and high cholesterol costs employers $414,000, high glucose $800,000, inactivity $391,000, overweight $492,000, and smoking $390,000.
Employees who are healthy and happy have better attendance than unhealthy or unhappy employees. The Department of Labor’s “Workplace Wellness Study Final” states that the R.A.N.D. Employer Survey found that 78 percent of employers who implemented an employee wellness program reported a decrease in absenteeism.
Absenteeism due to chronic health conditions costs employers significant amounts of money each year. The cost of absenteeism for employers falls between $16 and $286 per employee per year. The larger a company is, the more absenteeism costs. Employee wellness programs help to prevent and eliminate chronic conditions that cause absenteeism-related costs.
Improve Employee Retention Rates
The cost of hiring and training new employees is very expensive for employers. Background checks, drug testing, training, and hours paid to the employee for their training adds up quickly. It is, therefore, in the best interest of employers to keep their employees employed as long as possible. This prevents the loss of time and resources that are needed to train a new employee.
Employees who are happier and healthier will stay with an employer much longer. If an employee sees that a job has value to them and increases their quality of life, they are much more likely to remain with the employer for an extended period of time. Employee wellness programs can help employees to find value with an employer and remain healthy while employed with them.
Employees who are healthy are more alert and productive. Specific portions of employee wellness programs, such as fitness breaks and walking groups, create additional benefits to employee productivity. The Encyclopedia of Human Resource Management states that an unhealthy workforce can create “presenteeism,” a phenomenon where employees are present but significantly less productive.
Presenteeism causes employees to lose focus and need to repeat tasks, which costs employers more money than many other employment-related costs, such as medical expenses and absenteeism. Poor health is a direct cause of presenteeism, so addressing employee’s health issues will inevitably save employers money.
Improve Employee Morale
Employee morale creates a better work environment. If an employee is happy and ready to go to work, he or she will perform their job better. Employee wellness plans can create a fun atmosphere and encourage teamwork. Teamwork is a way to make all employees feel like their contributions are of great importance to the company. It also creates an atmosphere where employees work harder because they don’t want to let their team down.
Employee Wellness Programs Work
Employee wellness programs are beneficial for both the employer and employee. Therefore, they help to improve the health and happiness of employees, which improves the entire workforce. Consequently, healthy and happy employees save employers money through reduced health costs and by improving productivity and retention rates.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you have experience with employee wellness programs? Which parts of employee wellness programs have worked for you? Which parts of the same were not successful? Let us know your thoughts by commenting on this article.
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