How an Employee Wellness Program Can Benefit Your Company
By Maria Forbes
December 3, 2020
Employee wellness programs have become more common in recent years. Research shows that over half of all companies now offer them. While our interest is how employee benefits will influence attraction and retention of the small business workforce, we recognize that planning and implementing an employee wellness program takes time and resources. Several key factors make the creation of employee wellness a worthwhile examination for small business.
What Is an Employee Wellness Program?
Also known as an employee well-being program, an employee wellness program is a strategic approach toward improving the mental and physical health of a company’s employees. It’s not the same as health insurance. Health insurance is designed to cover some or all of the costs associated with healthcare. By comparison, an employee wellness program is designed to promote healthier employees.
Consider the positive impact of wellness benefits on your ability to attract the right people for your company, and to retain them.
Consider wellness benefits as part of total compensation, beyond monetary earnings. For a small business, wellness benefits do not have to be a full-blown program. A wellness offering can be specific opportunities suited to the size and make up of your workforce. Think of employee wellness as providing your employees with tools to help them improve their health while positively influencing your business culture. If you are already offering health insurance benefits, check with your carrier, some carriers offer wellness benefits at no cost for participation.
Common components of an employee wellness program include the following:
- Smoking cessation
- Group exercises or physical activities
- Medical screenings
- Biometric testing
- Weight management
- Nutrition education
- Stress management
- Gym memberships
- Social support
Fewer Sick Days
Statistics show an average of up to five sick days per year for U.S. employees. Employees who are actively engaged in healthier living can lead peers toward a culture of improved health. Those in good health will inevitably require less time off due to illness and ultimately lend more consistent performance.
By implementing an employee wellness program or specific wellness offering, employees have opportunities to gain better physical and mental health, so they can continue working, enhance their careers, and make reliable contributions to company growth. A wellness-oriented workforce may not eliminate sick days, but an employee wellness culture can reduce the performance gaps from sick day leave.
Lower Healthcare Costs
An employee wellness program can lower your healthcare costs. As a small business, your company may pay for a percentage of employee insurance premiums. An employee wellness program can lower these costs by promoting a healthier workforce. When healthy, employees require fewer trips to the doctor, insurance premiums may drop. Lower healthcare costs is on the radar for small business owners competing for top talent. Wellness benefits are one of several ways an employee wellness program can benefit your ability to attract top talent.
An employee wellness program can lead to increased satisfaction among employees. A study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that nearly six in 10 employees believe employers should offer a wellness program.
Why do so many employees want a wellness program? Many employees struggle to find the balance between work and personal life. The current high-tech and (2020) remote workplace, finds employees hyperconnected and continually focused throughout the day. As a result, it is easy to over-focus on the demands of a job and neglect personal health. A wellness program allows the small business workforce to find balance by making wellness part of the company culture, and by making it count as part of performance criteria. Think outside the box on this; are their causes you care about as a company or a team, that involve physical activities? Do you want to support employee physical fitness by paying for a membership to a local fitness center? You might engage local healthcare professionals to educate employees on wellness topics over lunch and learn sessions. There are many creative ways to explore how you can provide your employees with the tools and resources they need to achieve better health at the office or at a home office. And as their health improves, employees will feel well and be able to achieve more job satisfaction.
In addition to increased satisfaction, an employee wellness program can improve morale. Encouraging a greater desire to perform at their fullest potential, employees with better health will be motivated to find the right balance between work and personal life. Morale is contagious, positive or negative morale shows up on your P&L. How much are you losing from excessive Personal Time Off, PTO? A high rate of PTO is an indicator of many possible employee challenges including health. An unhealthy workforce is an opportunity to boost morale through improving employee well-being. Team building is a super way to get the team together and improve peer confidence at work, but it not to be confused with wellness. Promoting wellness is both personal enhancements to life style and health and group enrichment in the workplace or through the remote workplace. When wellness is noticed, it is desired by peers, and positive morale influences the whole team, the effects not only improve morale they also improve your bottom line.
There’s a strong connection between the health of an employee and his or her productivity. An individual’s ability to focus is impacted by many types of health challenges. If an employee has poor health, work can be pushed to evening or weekends. Poor health can cause performance lags, accuracy challenges, and more, as employees take longer to perform. Conversely, healthy employees have high productivity levels; they are able to sustain longer focus time and perform effectively during business hours. Healthy employees, will have a better chance to meet the individual demands of their role and have a positive impact on your business performance.
Regardless of industry, the benefits from an employee wellness offering can reduce sick days, lower healthcare costs, increase satisfaction, and improve productivity and business performance. As part of designing employee engagement, or development and retention, we consider the creation of a meaningful employee wellness offering to provide your workforce with the right tools and resources to live well and perform strong.