Employee wellness plans have become a popular solution to keep workers working while reducing health care costs for employers. Although some may be skeptical at first, a workplace wellness program can be a win-win situation for both parties.
According to the Wellness Council of America, employers benefit by reducing sick leave by an average of 26.78 percent and reducing health care costs by 26 percent. For every dollar spent on health and wellness programs, the company gains roughly $5.81 dollars back.
Employees also benefit beyond experiencing fewer health problems. Fifty-nine percent of employees reported having more energy and getting more work done; while 51 percent said they work harder once a wellness program is in place. A wellness program is also an incentive to keep employees at the company longer, since most workers today expect employee wellness plans to be offered at their company.
To increase participation, companies are offering incentives and rewards to employees who get on the health bandwagon. And a cash reward isn’t always the best way to encourage participation. Gift cards, access to healthy foods, and other non-cash incentives get the most feedback from employees.
How to Start Your Wellness Program
Workout at Work
It’s important to encourage physical activity during the day. If you follow this blog or own a standing desk, you’re well aware of how sitting all day is bad for your health. Working out at the gym isn’t doing your body any favors if you’re in a chair for nine hours. So turn your sedentary office into an active workspace that increases flexibility. Consider stand up meetings, walking during lunch, and encourage workers to take the stairs. If you’re on a budget and not every employee can use a standing desk, even bringing in one or two provides another option to increase movement.
Provide a nurse hotline where employees can call in and discuss their health concerns. It’s a more private outlet that workers can use to get one-on-one education from a health professional. Another option is to bring in doctors or speakers to give info sessions on everything from eating habits to general health and wellness practices. Offer an incentive to employees who choose to attend (maybe a free nutritious lunch during the seminar?).
Provide Stress Management
We’ve posted quite a bit on stress management lately, since it’s typically the number one cause of employee absenteeism and poor health. Stress has been linked to heart disease, lack of sleep and high blood pressure. Beyond poor health, it lowers worker satisfaction and decreases productivity. In your employee wellness plan, provide a stress management program for workers. Bringing in outside councilors or psychologists can give guidance and tools on stress management to improve worker health.
Offer Healthy Choices
Sometimes working through lunch is inevitable, so employers can take this as an opportunity to provide healthy food choices at the office. Offer nuts, trail mix and fresh fruit instead of a traditional vending machine. And replace sodas with water and juice. If your company has a cafeteria, switch up the menu to focus on items that encourage better nutrition, like lots of vegetable sides or a salad bar.
Employee wellness plans don’t have to be expensive or completely change your office, but showing employees that you care about their health is important. And it’s even more important that executives participate, to lead by example.