In recent years, employers across the United States have been paying more and more attention to promoting the wellness of their employees. One way that many employers are focusing on the wellness of their employees is by offering a workplace wellness program. The mutual benefits that a workplace wellness program offers to employees and employers alike is just one of the many reasons that these programs are becoming so popular. As any employer knows all too well, healthy workers take fewer sick days. Healthier employees are also more happy, better able to focus on their job duties, and more productive on the job. As the cost of health care continues to rise, employers are desperately searching for ways to get a handle on the cost of employee health benefits. Of course, a healthy employee doesn’t make as many doctor visits and is certainly less apt to need costly medical procedures, treatments, medications, and/or surgeries.
Employers are also constantly seeking innovative ways to attract and retain valuable employees. The benefits that wellness programs offer can help boost employee morale and keep retention rates high. Plus, giving employees more opportunity to socialize in settings outside the office, such as through a weight management program or an exercise class, often makes them more likely to work well together during their working hours. Offering a wellness program can also help an employer compete for new hires by offering an attractive perk. In fact, some potential employees have actually come to expect wellness programs to be part of their prospective employer’s benefit offerings.
The American Journal of Health Promotion recently conducted a study on wellness programs. It showed that the companies involved in the study saw their company’s wellness programs decrease utilization of health care benefits by 26%, sick leave by 28% or more, and workers’ compensation claim numbers by 30% over the last year. This is just one of the many studies showing that companies offering wellness programs and proactively encouraging their employees to make healthier lifestyle choices are seeing results when it comes to areas like reducing the risk of work-related injuries and controlling employee benefits cost.
Employers have an array of options when it comes to setting up an employer-sponsored wellness program. Some companies are choosing to hire coaches and consulting groups to come in and design and/or run their wellness program. Other companies are opting to create and manage the wellness program on their own. The program’s features are also versatile and can include any of the following features:
- On-site fitness facilities
- Massage therapy
- On-site exercise classes
- Smoking cessation support and incentives
- Confidential consultations with health coaches
- Stress reduction classes
- Nutrition classes
- Workplace safety education
- Weight management
- Stretching sessions
- Health risk evaluations
- Walk/run tracks and bike trails near or on-site
- On-the-clock exercise time
- On-site injury rehab and training
Some employers have even extended the offerings of their wellness program to the families of their employees. After all, one of the best ways to ensure workers are staying fit and healthy is by getting their entire family involved in the fitness and good nutrition lifestyle.
Overall, employees generally have an extremely favorable response to the valuable benefits they receive from a wellness program. The countless family, social, and work responsibilities that most people need to keep up with on a daily basis can be challenging and overwhelming. Between it all, it’s easy to put what should be the most important commitment, one’s health, on the back burner. And, this is exactly why workplace wellness programs are equally beneficial and desirable.