[ABOVE CHART: Percentage of employers reporting benefits from their wellness program ]
What if talk of utilizing all of an employee’s sick days turned to discussion of extra paid time off earned by staff who participated in three races the preceding year?
Or, perhaps, a walking group recently formed at your company after a health screening raised funds to plant an organic garden in the area where courtyard snack machines once stood?
Consider a group of smokers who joined together after completing a smoking cessation program at work to provide mutual support and hold one another accountable, thereby cutting your tobacco user insurance premiums in half.
Carving out time and using resources to allow employees to improve their personal health not only aids in the wellness and quality of life of each individual in an organization, but also lifts the morale and environment of the workplace. Nothing says “we care about you” more than providing incentive and opportunity for an individual to improve his health and that of his family (well, that and the almighty dollar).
Opportunity for mutually beneficial health and wellness programming can take many forms. Ranging from health fairs and health screenings to wellness education classes and tobacco cessation programs, each is beneficial to the employee and the organization.
A workplace wellness programs (WWP) study completed by RAND Health and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services derived that “employers view the impact of their wellness programs overwhelmingly as positive. More than 60 percent stated that their program reduced health care cost, and approximately four-fifths reported that it decreased absenteeism and increased productivity.”
Additionally, one prevalent employer in the study found that 50 percent of participants reduced their BMI upon completion of its healthy eating and lifestyle management program, which offered nutrition education, telephonic health coaching, and online tracking. Additionally, 92 percent achieved a blood pressure reduction, 83 percent improved blood sugar levels and cholesterol improvements were realized by 100 percent of participants.
An additional benefit of providing even one wellness event is the offshoot of groups of employees who have found a mutual desire to get in shape, quit smoking or lose that extra 15 pounds. The power of many reigns among wellness initiatives and is shown in the WWP study where among employers studied, smoking rates decreased over time even among those smokers who did not participate in the tobacco cessation program, as well as reduction in smoking participants of a program.
Fortunately, organizations interested in either initiating or enhancing a health and wellness event or program have many options according to the size and scope of their workplace as well as the needs of the employees. If a company is taking serious interest in initiating an effective program for employees, a good place to begin could be with a health fair. This exhibits numerous options for an individual to explore anything from improving eating habits with a nutrition program to managing stress with yoga and meditation. This is an opportunity to track where employees stop, speak with vendors and walk away with health and wellness literature.
A subsequent health screening provides detailed information about the scope of health of a company and can allow administrators to home in on what programming is most critical for their staff, be it diabetes or hypertension management, tobacoo cessation, weight or stress management or any number of wellness objectives.
Ideas for company-wide programming will naturally stem from there, allowing members of an organization the opportunity to work on their own personal health at work as well as at home. Return on investment on company health and wellness is remunerative as the strength of a company depends on the strength of each individual within.