The Benefits of Offering Wellbeing Programs in the Workplace
One of the best ways to ensure your employees are happy and healthy in their work is to offer a wellbeing program through your company. A workplace wellbeing program is designed to promote and improve health and fitness and is offered directly through the company. It allows you to provide gym memberships, premium discounts, cash rewards, and other incentives to employees who wish to enroll in the program. Examples of wellbeing programs include preventative health screening, weight-loss programs, seminars to help you quit smoking, and diabetes management.
The Aims of Wellbeing Programs
Wellbeing programs give your employees incentives, strategies, and social support to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors within the workplace and in personal life. They can become an important part of a healthy work environment. The main components that can help your company are:
- Helping employees live out the mission
- Giving employees an incentive to succeed
- Creating a culture of health
Health professional have been evaluating workplace wellbeing programs for decades. At this time, there is an enormous amount of data explaining the advantages and benefits of having a wellbeing program, such as:
Improved employee health behaviors: The main aim of every good wellbeing program is to help employees adopt healthy behaviors. These, in turn, lead to lower health risks, a reduced rate of chronic disease, and lower healthcare costs for employees.
The wellbeing programs most likely to show the best results are those which are well-organized and follow good behavior change models. One of the key factors in this type of program is that it encourages participants not just to change their health habits for a few days or weeks, but to implement permanent healthy lifestyle changes that will benefit them for years to come.
Successful wellbeing programs show that employees adopt healthier lifestyle practices including exercising more frequently, maintaining a healthier diet, quitting smoking, and limiting their alcohol intake. All of these changes reduce their stress levels, alleviate depression, and improve their overall life satisfaction.
Lowered elevated health risks: In helping employees develop a healthier lifestyle, the risk of chronic health conditions also decreases. Research shows that in just as little as six weeks, health risks can improve drastically. Furthermore, employees who maintain healthy behaviors can benefit from lower health risks for a longer period of time.
For example, the New England Journal of Medicine reports that for every 1 percent drop in total cholesterol the risk of having a heart attack drops by 2-3 percent. Reduced elevated health risks are the foundation of good health and offering employees a wellbeing program is a great way to help them and their families.
Reduced healthcare costs: Another major factor of wellbeing programs is how they can have a positive impact on the financial wellbeing of your company. Of course, the ability of a wellbeing program to lower healthcare costs depends on how effective it is.
But a comprehensive company wellbeing program that is effective at improving employee’s behaviors will result in a downward curve in the healthcare cost trend, as savings recouped from the program are greater than the programs actual cost.
Improved productivity: There are a number of factors which can lead to low productivity, such as distraction from other employees, lack of knowledge or experience, and distraction from social media. Another major cause of low productivity is poor health.
Numerous studies show that unhealthy lifestyle choices can lead to substantially high levels of lost productive work time. But a wellbeing program helps employees develop healthy behaviors that will reduce their stress levels, focus their concentration and enable them to become more productive in their tasks.
Decreased absenteeism: Studies show that employees who have good health, low-stress levels, healthy blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels, and healthy weight are not absent from work as often as less healthy employees.
Because a wellbeing program can reduce absenteeism, there are cost savings almost immediately. A recent survey was taken of 94,000 U.S. workers within 14 major industries by the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index.
A total of 77 percent of the surveyed workers had a chronic health condition (such as depression, cancer, asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure). The annual costs to their companies related to lost productivity totaled $84 billion.
Improved employee recruitment and retention: Along with a good salary and a comfortable benefits package, wellbeing programs make your company much more attractive to current and prospective employees.
It will improve the ability to recruit new employees, particularly millennials who specifically look for this type of benefit. It also helps any company more likely to retain employees.
Sustained employee morale: One of the other valuable benefits of a wellbeing program is that it allows employees to engage, communicate, and feel valued and appreciated. By offering employees a wellbeing program, it shows that the company trusts and respects them and wants them to succeed in life.
Not only will employees be healthier, but they will also be happier. A wellbeing program can help employees achieve all of their needs, both physical, social and emotional.
Earned sense of accomplishment: Some of the most successful wellbeing programs work by featuring programs in which employees can compete against each other for rewards. For example, who can cut out alcohol for a week, who can walk the most steps, or who can reach a weight goal.
Setting these types of goals for employees can not only help engage them and build a healthy atmosphere in the workplace, but it can also give employees a sense of achievement when they have accomplished a healthy task.
Challenges Faced by Wellbeing Programs
When NPR conducted a study of workplace wellbeing programs throughout the U.S., they found that only 40 percent of employees surveyed were actively participating in their employer-sponsored wellbeing programs. Getting employees to participate can be challenging for a number of reasons. These include:
- Employees may feel that the choice of programs is too limited. Many employees claim that they would prefer to see specialized programs that can provide them with individual feedback.
- Some employees start a wellbeing program but then become bored and drop out of it. Using games, challenges, and rewards can increase employee participation and make them more motivated to stay in the program to the end.
Clearly, the benefits of a workplace wellbeing program extend beyond physical health. As an employer or HR representative, creating a positive company culture by offering wellbeing programs can be beneficial for your employees. With these types of programs, employees are less stressed, happier and develop a stronger loyalty to their company.