11 Jan Start a Workplace Wellness Program
A program called a workplace wellness program has been in the spotlight in recent years, because they offer tangible results. Healthier employees are happier employees who stick around longer.
Additionally, wellness programs can improve productivity, since they reduce absenteeism and sickness. A Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine study found companies with high health and wellness records outperformed their competitors by 235% over six years. Exercise and physical fitness also reduce stress.
What is a Wellness Program?
The CDC says a wellness program “includes programs, policies, benefits, environmental supports, and links to the surrounding community designed to encourage the health and safety of all employees.”
OSHA states companies should approach safety and wellness concurrently, because they’re critically connected. Companies initiate safety programs from the “top down,” usually driven by regulatory standards and company goals.
Conversely, a workplace wellness program can empower employees and utilize a “bottom up” strategy. By promoting healthy behaviors, reducing risk factors, and providing employees with important information, companies may reduce insurance costs and prevent illness and injuries.
Why Invest in Wellness?
Studies show that cross-utilizing resources results in significant savings when companies promote health and safety together. For instance, Johnson & Johnson reduced health care costs by $2.71 for every dollar they spent on their wellness program. Some states and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, may offer your business a grant or tax incentive, too.
How to Start a Wellness Program
The keys to a successful wellness program include strong leadership, tailoring information to employee needs, and addressing mental, emotional, and physical, well-being. Experts recommend the following steps.
Assessing employee health concerns can pinpoint commonalities and challenges. Health risk assessment questionnaires are a simple way to do this. Many employers also include blood, BMI, and glucose testing.
Focus on Greatest Benefit to Employees at Most Risk
High-risk employees are 3 times more likely to file workers’ comp claims. By assessing factors such as blood pressure, body fat, smoking, and stress, employers can identify those at most risk and help them manage and prevent disease.
For instance, the obesity epidemic prompted researchers to investigate the impact in the workplace. One study revealed double the claims for obese employees, seven times the medical costs, and thirteen times the absenteeism compared to employees maintaining healthy weights.
Typically, companies offer physical fitness facilities, nutritional guidance, smoking cessation classes, and stress management techniques. However, companies must tailor their offerings to the needs of their workers. Someone working in an office might benefit from tips on how to reduce sitting or ways to create a more ergonomic workstation, instead.
Address Communication Broadly
Today’s internet connected world offers many avenues to reach employees affordably and efficiently. Besides traditional methods such as meetings and handbooks, employers can use email, social media and their website to deliver their wellness message.
Using multiple platforms increases reach and this is especially important in a diverse workplace. Most businesses employ people from varied backgrounds, education levels, and age groups. Workers can connect in the manner they prefer.
Some companies utilize wellness apps to motivate employees, track goals, and record vital health information.
Use an Overarching Approach
Effective wellness programs start with employer commitment. Later, it takes planning and persistence to entice employees into programs. As a result, it is vital you offer assistance with whatever ails your workers. Offerings could include anything to improve mental, emotional, and physical challenges, but they must be sufficiently robust to create excitement and participation.
For instance, stress is often a major problem in fast-paced or demanding industries. Offering stress management courses or activities could be just what they need. If obesity is a common problem, weight management and dietary seminars could fit the bill. An overarching approach to wellness can encourage workers to change, because everyone’s rooting for them to succeed.
Make Offerings Accessible
Not all employees can squeeze courses and hands-activities into their monthly budget. Because of this, any offerings should cost little or be offered free-of-charge. Even if an employee decides not to participate, knowing they can creates goodwill.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Labor state that effective wellness programs can help contain lifestyle-related disease and reduce premature sickness and death.
Workplace wellness programs offer many benefits, including identifying employee issues, initiating change, and improving health and well-being. Since they are also a wise business decision to reduce healthcare and workers’ comp costs, why not integrate wellness into your corporate policies and planning?