There seems to be a growing focus on health and wellness in American culture, and workplaces are no different. Workplace wellness programs are a smart move for employers of all sizes.
The concept of workplace wellness programs is increasing in popularity as more and more companies are bringing their employees’ health concerns into focus.
Although workplaces are often associated with coffee, high sugar treats and increasing stress levels, many employers are making a change with education programs, wellness incentives and other strategies to help boost health benefits. Not only are there morale-boosting benefits for staff that take part in these programs, but employers often also receive specific cost-savings benefits as well.
What Constitutes a Workplace Wellness Program?
As with most new movements, the exact definition of a workplace wellness program is still fluid. Successful programs range from simple educational seminars to more robust health and wellness improvement seminars.
Workplace wellness programs can include:
- Recreation and Fitness Centers. Many larger companies that have the resources have built recreation and fitness centers on site to make it easier for employees to engage in regular exercise. In addition to fitness classes and exercise equipment, the recreation and fitness center can be used as a central location for health checks and rewards programs.
- Personal Wellness Profiles and Education: This type of program focuses on the educational aspects of wellness and fitness. By having employees fill out educational profiles and participate in health screenings, they become more aware of their fitness levels and are empowered with information to make changes.
- Rewards-based Incentives Programs: Whether it’s smoking cessation or weight loss, many companies are taking an active approach by offering challenges to their employees with milestones, rewards and prizes for reaching specific health goals.
These programs can all help employees become healthier and happier at work. But what is the benefit for companies? As a recent Harvard study shows, wellness programs can help companies boost profits and productivity.
How Workplace Wellness Programs Can Help
According to the Harvard study, Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings, and there are several specific and measurable benefits associated with workplace wellness programs:
Reduced Healthcare Costs: Wellness programs may lead to reductions in health care costs, which can lower health insurance programs. Considering that 60% of Americans get their health insurance through an employer, the reduction in costs can be significant. When employees are able to increase their level of wellness, they are using their health insurance benefits less – which can lead to lower rates.
Reduced Absenteeism: Healthy employees are less likely to miss work due to illness, so temps and substitute workers aren’t as necessary. This can save the company thousands of dollars each year on time and money. In addition, the healthy habits that employees begin due to workplace wellness programs can positively impact family members as well, which means that employees are also less likely to miss work due to taking care of sick family members.
Increased Productivity: Although there is not a one to one relationship between health and productivity, companies that have workplace wellness programs report an increase in employee morale, which in turn leads to a more productive workday – and can save a company millions.
Reduced Injuries: It’s no secret that workplace injuries can cost companies thousands of dollars in healthcare costs and worker’s compensation. When employees are healthy and physically fit, their risk for workplace injuries goes down significantly, which can create an overall reduction in injuries. This leads to a reduction in cost for the company.
The Hard Facts About Employee Wellness Programs
In theory, better health should lead to more improved productivity, but many companies are reluctant to get on board because of the initial set up costs. Time and time again, companies have shown that in workplace wellness programs have saved millions of dollars.
For example, in 2001, MD Anderson Cancer Center created an injury care unit within its employee health and well-being department. Within six years of its establishment, the company experienced an 80% decline in lost workdays, and a 64% decline in modified-duty days. Cost savings totaled $1.5 million and their worker’s comp insurance premiums decreased by 50%.
In addition, Johnson & Johnson saved $250 million in health care costs within a 10-year period due to their wellness programs. The company estimated that they received a return of $2.71 on every dollar it spent in the form of increased productivity and reduced healthcare costs.
Clearly, investing in the workforce’s health can pay off. Wellness programs can be started in companies of all sizes to save money and improve morale.
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