All around the world, more and more companies are implementing workplace wellness programs. These refer to any programs organized by a workplace to promote good health. Some examples are offering on-site exercise classes, meditation sessions for stress management, healthy lunches and snacks, nap rooms, etc.
At its core, work wellness programs follow a simple philosophy – happy employees are hardworking employees! However, there is a lot of scepticism surrounding the idea of wellness programs at work; although they are more popular now than ever, many people are still suspicious of its alleged benefits.
In this article, we’ll look at the benefits offered by work wellness programs. To dispel any doubts or myths, we’ll show you evidence-backed claims and hard data so you can better understand the rationale behind workplace wellness programs.
Benefit #1: Wellness programs improve employees’ overall health
Wellness programs strive to correct bad habits employees have regarding their physical and mental health. As unhealthy habits put people at risk of developing both chronic and acute diseases, being healthy is important for everyone. After all, sick and unhealthy employees won’t be able to work and contribute as productively as hale and healthy ones!
A study that looked at the change in health behaviours in employees that participated in workplace wellness programs for two years found that their physical and mental health improved significantly. These employees were more likely to eat sufficient fruits and vegetables, smoke fewer cigarettes or quit entirely, drink in moderation and manage their stress better. The Rand Report, the most comprehensive review of wellness programs out there, similarly concluded that they can combat lifestyle-related diseases.
Benefit #2: Wellness programs reduce healthcare costs
Wellness programs don’t offer benefits solely for employees – they can also help organizations reduce their healthcare costs. Wellness programs that focus on mitigating the risk of disease by way of promoting exercise and healthy eating will help your employees improve their physical health tremendously. This will reduce their risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure for instance. Ultimately this will reduce your healthcare costs to support them with their diseases.
Wellness programs that aim to help people with their nutrition and exercise habits can reduce health risks in just six weeks. Over time, their health will improve even more, and their risk of disease and/or illnesses will reduce dramatically. This will help you reduce the amount you pay in terms of health insurance premiums, reimbursement for healthcare services, etc.
Benefit #3: Wellness programs improve employee work attendance
In general, healthy employees are less likely to call in sick and thereby have overall good work attendance. But absenteeism is not just about physical health, employees who love their job are more likely to commit every day. Offering workplace wellness programs targets both these areas. So not only will you aid your employees in becoming healthier, but you will also create an environment in which they enjoy coming into each day.
Improved work attendance additionally serves to help your organization cut down on costs – absenteeism costs fall by roughly 2.73 USD for every dollar spent on workplace wellness programs.
Benefit #4: Wellness programs improve morale and team bonding
Something which might seem as small and simple as a wellness program actually works wonders in boosting your employees’ morale. Plus, it gives them a great opportunity to get to know one another in a fun, relaxed environment. Wellness programs show your employees that you care about their health and wellbeing and that their job is not just about work and profit.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs describes this best – while stuff such as food and water are essential to life, confidence, feeling respected by others and having the opportunity to exercise your creativity without being judged are essential to fulfilment. Workplace wellness programs target these areas and allow your employees to feel appreciated and cared about. Overall, this will turn them into hard workers if not already the case. After all, people are happy to go the extra mile for those whom they care about, and who they feel care about them!
A report conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Humana found that workplace wellness programs improved employee engagement. As it reduces stress overall, employees find it a lot easier to be productive and produce good, quality work. It will also create meaningful bonds between co-workers which is very valuable for teamwork and morale in general.
Benefit #5: It improves employee recruitment and retention
Employees want wellness programs, as a study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health concluded. Almost a third of the employees surveyed felt that employers should take steps to improve the health of their employees.
This trend indicates that workplace wellness programs will only rise in popularity. To avoid scrambling to come up with good programs once they become a necessity for potential employees to consider working at a company, it’s best that employers work out a good program now. This will allow plenty of time for trial-runs to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
As workplace wellness programs are in demand, they are a useful tool in employee recruitment as well as retention. When you show employees that their well-being matters, you gain a significant edge over other companies that offer minimal benefits.
So, there you have it – the top five benefits of having a workplace wellness program. Not only will it benefit your organization in terms of costs, productivity, recruitment and retention, it will also benefit your employees in terms of their health, attitude towards their work, and happiness.