Secrets of Successful Employee Wellness Programs

Employee Wellness Programs

From stress and obesity to smoking and cancer, health issues are a concern for most individuals. Many companies have begun instituting employee wellness programs to educate workers about healthy habits, encourage healthier behaviors and help prevent illness whenever possible.

These programs may include a wide variety of elements and should be tailored to suit the particular needs of an organization and its employees. So what are the benefits of employee wellness programs? Read on to find out.

Benefits for the employer

Starting a wellness program will come at a cost — but it’s an investment that will likely pay off on many levels. Some advantages of employee wellness programs include:

  • Keeping your company’s healthcare costs down by encouraging employees to make smarter choices that reduce their chances of getting sick
  • Reducing absenteeism by promoting healthy behaviors
  • Increasing productivity with healthier, happier employees who have higher energy levels
  • Tax incentives under federal healthcare legislation

Implementing employee wellness programs

Wellness programs differ from one organization to the next. Common components include health screenings and fairs, fitness classes, workshops on issues such as smoking, and even simple actions like offering healthy snacks at meetings or in the break room.

To determine what type of program would work best for your company, put together an advisory committee that can assess employee needs and determine what resources are available. For example:

  • Do you have space for a Pilates class?
  • Is there a nearby park for a lunchtime walking group?
  • Is adding healthier foods to the vending machines something employees would appreciate?

You may also look for health-related organizations to partner with, such as nearby fitness centers.

There is no “one size fits all” program. The best employee wellness programs are tailored to the specific needs of the staff, fit the company culture and use available resources to their greatest effect. In addition to program policies, be sure to develop an evaluation process to help adjust and improve your program over time.

Tips and considerations

While employee wellness programs have the health and well-being of employees in mind, some employees may be put off by the idea. As an employer, approaching your workers to discuss their health — or making suggestions about their eating, exercise, drinking or smoking habits — may be seen as a violation of privacy. 

Positive reinforcement through incentives is one of the best ways to encourage employees to take part in the program. Reimbursing workers for their gym memberships, offering discounts on insurance premiums for those who meet a specific health standard or hosting a fun cooking class for program participants are just a few incentive ideas.

While employee wellness programs take time and money to implement, the financial benefits for companies and physical benefits for workers are well worth the effort for everyone involved.

Want to learn more about employee wellness programs? Read our post on the common types of workplace wellness programs.

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